In the winter of 2015-2016, Canada has been forced to reopen some of the debate around its
bestiality laws. The question before the Supreme Court of Canada is “Does bestiality require
the penetration of a penis or does bestiality include fondling or oral sexual contact?” The answer
given by the lower courts may be surprising to the lay person.
Brief History of Bestiality in Canada
In early Canada there were few criminal cases pursued against buggery and sodomy. When
these cases did make it to trial they were often left unprosecuted unless a violent or abusive
narrative was involved. In fact, while the sentence for these crimes was death until 1841, when
compared with other commonwealth countries, very few Canadians ever faced such severe
In 1969 there was a brief period of hope that when homosexuals, via the Criminal Law
Amendment Act, gained some of their rights and freedoms in Canada zoosexuals would also
gain their rights with the removal of the sodomy and buggery laws. Unfortunately, this hope did
not last as the social conservative and religious backlash caused by these changes were not
handled well by the then government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The antihomosexual laws
remained and exceptions were made for only certain instances of homosexual practice. This
meant that antizoosexual laws were left unchanged. Remnants of these polices can still be
found today? for example, if three homosexual men engage in acts of anal intercourse together,
they are breaking the law in Canada to this day.
The current law, section 160 of the Canadian Criminal code, came into effect in 1985, with only
a few minor cosmetic changes in the last 30 years.
It reads, in part,
Every person who commits bestiality is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or is guilty of an offence punishable on
In 2011, Bill C10 was passed in an attempt by the socially conservative government to impose
more sexual morals on Canadians by imposing mandatory minimum sentences for many
already illegal sexual acts. Most of the changes were in sections of the criminal code which
were seldom used.
It has been argued that the act of zoosexual behavior should be a protected act under the
charter of rights and freedoms of Canada.(1) As outlined in the 1995 case before the Supreme
Court, Egan v Canada, sexual orientation should be a protected right.(2)
Current Case before the Supreme court
The case before the Supreme court of Canada is an unfortunately disturbing one. My analysis is
that of an average citizen who is familiar with the laws around zoosexuality and animal rights in
Canada but with no formal training in law.
The facts are these: A man serially raped his daughters for over a decade. In four instances he
used the family dog. The dog never had penetrative sex and was used to orally stimulate the
daughters. While the man was found guilty on repeat charges of rape, the British Columbia
provincial court and BC superior court both ruled that the interpretation of oral stimulation as
bestiality was not legally correct.
The BC attorney general has brought forth case number 36450 to the Supreme Court of
Canada arguing that this is neither an animal protection case, nor is there a case for limiting the
interpretation of a moral law. The argument they brought forward is that all sexual contact with
animals should be made illegal because the law in this section of criminal code deals with public
morals and that any infraction should be dealt with in that light.(3)
It should be obvious that any thinking person, myself included, will condemn the rape of the
young girls and the treatment of the dog in question. The young girls were obviously harmed in
the acts their father performed. It is interesting to note that the dog seems to have been
indifferent to the whole affair. No reports of the dog’s welfare have been made, unlike cases
where zoosexuals have suddenly had animals seized due to “abuse”. It is worth noting the
interesting double standard.
With no zoophile organizations in Canada to intervene there is no one mentioning the protection
of both the rights of the animal in question nor the rights of normal zoosexual individuals
involved in nonabusive relationships with animals. Rather, the only interested intervener was
“Animal Justice Canada” a legal defense fund for animals. While, according to their webpage,
they do a lot of work for animals it is difficult to find a lot of collaborating information on the
group outside of their web presence. Those successes listed, while laudable, seem to be low
hanging fruit. Even the founder is more notable for his several failed attempts at political office
than his animal welfare work. Animal Justice’s perspective is that animals must be protected
and that any sexual contact, including mutually enjoyable contact or when the contact is initiated
by an animal, is abuse because animals cannot consent. The attorney general makes a more
persuasive case that the section of the legal code involves sexual morals, animal protection
being in an entirely different section of the code and not the reason for the proscription against
I think it is important to examine the argument that consent is required from an animal before a
physical touch is involved. At what level of touch does the consent issue come into play? Under
Canadian law if you do not consent to be touched, anyone who does so can be considered to
be assaulting you. Will we then outlaw animals as pets? And what of the food industry whose
long habit of controlling every intimate detail of animal reproduction includes, under any
reasonable definition, the rape of cows, bulls, sows, mares, stallions and so forth. Do those
animals consent? Is animal rape okay when it is done for no enjoyment but solely for money?
Live cover is so seldom used in animal husbandry practices anymore that any definition of
bestiality that includes the touching of animal genitals which exempts AI and semen collection is
would appear to be a religiously moral law that has nothing to do with either animal protection or
the defense of man’s respectability. We have already lost those in our treatment of animals.
It is a given amongst zoophiles that animals can consent and that the consent should be sought
out. The broader implication of this is that many of the acts we perform on animals should also
require this same protection. In the end, I would happily take my chances and give up my rights
if the result of this case were to protect millions of animals from abusive practices, but we all
know that this is not going to be the case.
Animal Justice claims:
This is the first time in Canadian history that the top court has considered any legislation
directly protecting animals. It’s also one of the first times that animal advocates have
been granted permission to make oral arguments before the Supreme Court. Animal
Justice intervened to ensure the Supreme Court hears the perspective of countless
animals who have no voices of their own. Whatever the outcome of the case, it was a
victory for us to be there and speak for them.
which is simply a mischaracterization of the case in question. It is unfortunately the court was so
bereft of guidance that a group such as this was allowed intervener status. The biggest problem
with this group is their argument of what is necessary and unnecessary harm and indeed what
qualifies as harm. Their submission does not provide facts and information? rather it assumes
facts which are very much not in evidence. Is artificial insemination in which an arm is placed
without any sedation inside a mare a necessary harm? Is cunnilingus on a mare in which the
mare backs into the feeling with no restraint a harm at all? I would love to see any debate on
these topics and indeed on how we treat animals before the supreme court but, of course, that
would be out of the question. As with most animal rights groups, this group considers animals
as “lesser” than humans and that they must be protected even from things they might like.(4)
Moreover, the criminal code of Canada already protects animals from harm via animal
protection sections. Section 160, the bestiality provision, is simply an antiquated leftover from
when buggery was part of the penal code. We could hope it will be struck down and certainly
hope the Supreme Court of Canada agrees with the limits set forth by the supreme court of
British Columbia. Canada needs an organization similar to ZETA to organize a legal defense
under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to provide education to the public and provide
resources to zoosexuals who have a hard time reconciling their place as part of a society that
reviles them so much.
Hopefully in the future we will have a better way than outlawing something that is truly harmless
to protect both our animal companions and those animals we use for farming.