Bullfights glued to Portugal’s TVs

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 12-07-2012 15:41:00 · 2 Comments
Bullfights glued to Portugal’s TVs

Proposals by the Left Bloc (BE) and the Greens (PEV) to change the laws that regulate the showing of bullfights on television have been crushed by a majority in Parliament, meaning the controversial sport will continue to be shown unrestricted on national public channels.

Two proposals put forward by the Left Bloc, to "stop institutional support being given to spectacles that inflict physical or psychological pain or cause death to animals" as well as to ban the showing of bullfights on public TV channels and change the current laws that regulate screening were both trounced by a majority in Parliament last Friday.

But in spite of the majority, a number of opposing MPs gave the proposals their backing.

The first proposal received 12 votes in favour from Socialist MPs (PS), one vote in favour from a Christian Democrat MP (CDS-PP), and five PS MPs abstained from voting. The latter proposal received four PS votes in favour while 11 MPs from the same party abstained.

A proposal put forward by the Green Party, to have bullfights considered an "illicit spectacle" and subsequently restrict their showing on television was also panned, despite rustling up five votes in favour and eight abstentions from the opposition.

However, it was the opposition’s heckling behaviour during a heated debate on Tuesday last week, held to discuss the proposals ahead of Friday’s parliamentary session, which really caused blood to boil among those pushing for changes.

PAN, the Party for Animals and for Nature, slammed the opposition’s conduct, saying: "Anyone who witnessed the debate about these matters couldn’t help but be surprised by the behaviour of the MPs on the CDS-PP, PSD (Social Democrats) and PS benches, who, among boos, jeers and shouts of ‘olé’, made the BE’s and PEV’s speeches about their law-projects practically inaudible."

"PAN condemns the lamentable attitude of these MPs, recalling that they were elected to represent all Portuguese, not only those who are fans or part of the bullfighting industry."

PAN spokesperson Sofia Costa told The Portugal News that the party had expected Friday’s outcome, but vowed that "every day" it would continue its fight to seal the contentious issue.

Given the current economic circumstances Ms. Costa believes it is unacceptable for the tauromachy industry, a "private industry", to continue receiving public funding from the EU and local councils.

Preventing children from watching bullfights, both in the rings and on TV, is another issue the party is looking to address, along with "dispelling the myth among foreigners" that Portuguese bullfighting is a bloodless sport.

"We are going to publish flyers in English to explain to foreigners that Portuguese bullfights are not bloodless", she said.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, pro-bullfighting associations have given the government’s decision to keep the spectacles on TV a standing ovation.

The Portuguese Federation for Bull-related Associations, Prótoiro, described the outcome as a "resounding victory for Portuguese bullfighting and freedom."

On its Facebook page Prótoiro, which comprises 14 different associations related to the bull-fighting industry, claims that the proposals were quashed by 84.8 percent of parliament. "Parties from left to right took a stance against the cultural and authoritarian censorship attempted by the radical left’s projects, with the PSD, CDS, PCP and the majority of the PS voting against the intentions.

"This is the third defeat suffered by anti-bullfighters who, in just six months, have seen all of their initiatives completely trounced", the Federation said.

According to Prótoiro around 900,000 people pay to see bullfights every year and a further three million, taking into account the various street parties that involve bulls, watch them, "which has a strong impact on the economy. A social strength that cannot be forgotten by those who have the ethical duty to report on the experiences and culture of our country", the Federation argued, making reference to the press.

Foreigners have also come forward to defend the activity.

A British Algarve-based horse-trainer who has lived in Portugal for many years and works closely with bull-fighters and breeders described the attempt to ban the fights from being shown television as "ridiculous."

The trainer, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that fight-like interaction between horse and bull is something that "happens naturally in the wild", and told The Portugal News there "should be more education about it."

Admitting "it would be nice to do it without blood" the trainer insists the bull is not in pain during the fights, supporting the theory on recent studies conducted in the USA, and while condemning the bull-fights in Spain "where there is no fair play", says that in Portugal there is reluctance to hurt the bull as it could still be used for breeding.

As well as only allowing the bull to fight for 15 minutes at a time it is removed from the ring if it looks over-tired or stressed, the trainer explained, and added that in the instance the bull is significantly injured, in Portugal it is "taken straight to the butcher, even if it is on a Saturday or Sunday night, not left for 24 or 48 hours as some people think."

Regarding the TV ban, "people can always change channels if they don’t like it" the trainer concluded.

Comparatively, on its Facebook page Prótoiro has 11,771 ‘likes’, while Anti-Torada, one of Portugal’s main anti-bullfighting movements, has amassed more than 190,400 ‘likes’.


I would like to see more of the bull-fighting supporters in the ring with the bull. In that way they will gain a better understanding of the "sport".

by PMM from Other on 16-07-2012 04:11:00

No real shock there then,if there was no bull killing, then the peoples would want real political issues addressing like increasing the minimum wage.but its ok now, bull fighting is more important.

by Troy from UK on 13-07-2012 09:39:00
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