MADRID (AP) — Spain’s parliament on Thursday banned “comic” bullfighting events featuring dwarves dressed in costumes, in a decision applauded by disability rights groups but condemned by the few surviving performers.
Dwarves in Spain have long dressed as firefighters or clowns to chase bulls without killing them, at public spectacles designed to be humorous. The tradition stretches back decades, but has declined in popularity.
The law approved on Thursday brings Spain into line with European Union directives on discrimination against disabled people, and was hailed by campaigners.
“We have overcome the Spain of the past,” said Jesús Martín, the Director General of Spain’s Royal Board on Disabilities, which advises the Social Rights Ministry that pushed the ban forward in parliament.
“People with dwarfism were subjected to mockery in public squares in our country, passing down the idea that it is okay to laugh at difference to so many girls and boys who go with adults to see these shameful performances.”
A handful of the few remaining performers staged a protest in front of parliament to express their condemnation of the ban.
“They take it for granted that people are being denigrated or laughed at, and it’s the opposite: the respect they have for us is impressive,” Daniel Calderón, a dwarf bullfighter, told the EFE news agency.