Catalonia looks set to become the first Spanish region to ban circus acts which use live animals.
Many towns there already outlaw the practice, as do dozens of others elsewhere in Spain.
From next year existing animal protection laws will be extended to circus acts.
The move is largely symbolic: the only circus in Catalonia still featuring animals has not put on a show for 18 months.
Its director nonetheless describes the ban as “discriminatory”.
“People at home can have cats and dogs, but we in the circus can’t,” said Carles Raluy, director of the Raluy Circus.
The move has been backed by five of the seven political groups in Catalonia’s regional assembly.
One deputy from the ruling nationalists said society had “progressed, and with it levels of animal protection”.
The ban was a campaign promise to one animal rights association whose president, Carlos Lopez, said he was happy that the Catalan parliament was “leading the fight in defence of animal rights”.
The ban unites parties across the political spectrum.
It follows a similar move over bullfighting. Outlawed in Catalonia two years ago, it brought to an end centuries of tradition – albeit one seen by many Catalans as purely Spanish.
But several politicians have pointed out that animal welfare in the region still has some way to go, citing traditional fiestas in Catalan towns such as the “running of the bulls”.
In Europe only a handful of countries have introduced total bans on circus animals: Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece. Many however have restrictions at national or local level.
In October, the British government said circus animals would be banned in England by the end of 2015.
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