Spanish model Elen Rivas joined dozens of people wearing bull masks to present officials at the Spanish Embassy with a 67,078 signature-strong petition opposing a political initiative in Spain to protect bullfighting as ‘cultural heritage.’
Campaigners – members of Humane Society International/UK, League Against Cruel Sports, PETA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals – and a giant “bull,” gathered outside the Embassy as part of an internationally coordinated effort. In a show of global unity against the cruelty of bullfighting, similar petitions were also presented to Spanish Embassies around the world.
“I am proud of my Spanish heritage, but the fact that some people are still clinging to the tradition of stabbing bulls to death in bullfighting arenas is something that the vast majority of Spaniards, including me, are ashamed of,” Rivas says. “Glorifying the deliberate slaughter of animals should not be tolerated in a civilised society.”
The proposed legislation, which is moving through the Spanish parliament, seeks to protect and promote bullfighting as cultural heritage, including allowing public funds to be used to prop-up the industry. A recent Ipsos MORI poll of Spanish citizens showed that more than three quarters do not wish their taxes to be used for this purpose, and the majority of Spaniards don’t attend bullfights.
The four UK-based organisations believe the proposed law is a cynical attempt by a desperate bullfighting industry to secure the future of this waning blood sport. They are working together and with animal protection groups in Spain under the campaign banner #LoveSpainHateBullfights to raise awareness and to support compassionate Spanish citizens who oppose this legislation and want to see bullfighting banned, not protected. A cruel spectacle, bullfighting not only inflicts a slow, agonising death on the animals involved, it also risks desensitising spectators, especially children, to violence.
Once in the ring, the bull is repeatedly stabbed by a variety of spears, spikes and daggers, causing tremendous pain and blood loss until the matador finally drives a sword into the exhausted animal. Bullfighting has been on the decline for years, with attendance decreasing and bullrings closing across Spain, as more and more people distance themselves from this archaic blood sport.
The proposed legislation, initiated by supporters of bullfighting, is currently being discussed by members of the Culture Committee in the Congress of Deputies (lower house). The final text of the legislation is scheduled to be discussed and voted on by both houses of the Spanish parliament, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, within the next week.