The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that some forms of bestiality are legal. In a shocking 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court determined that sexual acts involving animals, which do not involve penetration, are legal acts.
Bestiality is currently illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada, and has been since the 1800’s, but the definition of “bestiality” has never been entirely clear. A recent case before the Supreme Court involved a man who sexually abused his teenaged step daughters. In one twisted act, he forced the girls to rub peanut butter over their genitals and get the family dog to lick it off. Following a trial, the man was convicted of fourteen charges, including two charges of bestiality, for a total sentence of 18 years in prison. Due to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the two bestiality charges will be thrown out.
Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice, a Canadian animal rights group, lashed out at the Supreme Court, stating, “As of today, Canadian law gives animal abusers license to use animals for their own sexual gratification… it is now time for legislators to act.” Labchuk referred to Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, which was tabled by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erksine-Smith. While Erksine-Smith’s bill would better define bestiality as a “sexual act between a person and an animal,” Parliament has been hesitant to support the bill. In addition to defining bestiality, the bill would also ban shark finning, the sale of cat and dog fur, and “brutally or viciously” killing an animal. The last portion of the bill would potentially be damaging for Canadian hunters, including those working in its sealing industry, which is essential to the survival of many Canadians living in the far north, in Nunavut and Labrador.
The lone dissenter in the Supreme Court, Justice Rosalie Abdella (appointed in 2004 as Canada’s first Jewish Supreme Court Justice), wrote that “acts with animals that have a sexual purpose are inherently exploitive whether or not penetration occurs.”
It is now up to Parliament to determine the thorough definition of bestiality.