On the 5th of September 2023, I retweeted (or “re-Xed”) on my account Charles Menni a tweet from the French animal welfare association Once Voice showing a video of a pony mare being battered by someone who’s probably a horse-riding teacher.
What made my retweet special is the comparison it made between the penalty that would face someone condemned for such acts of violence against an animal, usually a fine of a few hundred euros, with the penalty of someone convicted for sexual acts upon an animal. In France, zoosexuals face 6 to 18 months of suspended jail time, a minimum of 5 to 10 years registered as a sex offender, a life ban on keeping an animal (contrary to acts of cruelty, for which the ban can be temporary), and mandatory therapy. Note that the severity of the penalty does not depend on the gravity of the acts. Usage of constraint, violence, or infliction of injuries has no impact on it. However, for some reason being the owner of the animal is an aggravating factor.
In my post, I claimed that anyone committing “any sexual acts with an animal that asked for it” faced such a sentence. With an account having as a description “Zoosexual and horse lover fighting prejudice”, my tweet became viral and reached 600.000 views in less than two days, which isn’t bad for an account that only had 20 subscribers. Many people reacted to “who asked for it”. It aimed at bringing up the following questions: can animals make sexual advances to a human being? Should such behavior face repression in the absence of violence, constraint, and injury?
The term “any sexual acts” has also been deliberately chosen since with the new French anti-bestiality law, the notion of “atteinte sexuelle” (sexual abuse) which is very wide, was chosen to replace the one of “sévices de nature sexuelle” (sexual violence) that only incriminated active penetration of the animal since the Junior Case in 2007. In 2022, a local politician was one of the first to be trialed. He had allowed two of his 21 dogs to mount him. He declared: “I take good care of them, I do not practice sodomy upon them, they are the ones doing it if they please to do so” (1.) No news article covering the case claimed that signs of mistreatment were found. He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months of suspended jail time with the other complementary penalties we mentioned earlier.
In a country that practices factory farming, where artificial insemination is the norm, even for companion animals, this level of severity is questionable. Zoosexuality isn’t “only” compared to mistreatment, but as we said anyone convicted faces the same sentence as for “cruel acts”, and even more, if we consider the complementary penalties someone convicted for cruel acts won’t be enlisted to the sex offender registry.
On my Twitter account, I made other posts, in one of which I gave a link to my article in French that is very critical of the arguments given by the French animal welfare association Animal Cross in its 2019 “investigation” on zoosexuality (2.) In another one, I reminded that in 2006 the Danish ethical committee in its conclusion recommended against a total ban on sexual interactions between humans and animals in the absence of violence and constraint. It even claimed that such prohibition could be counterproductive as it could deter people from bringing their animals to the veterinary in case of an injury (3.)
My Twitter post was still going viral, and I was still receiving hateful comments, death threats, and encouragement of self-harm or suicide, most of them are still on Twitter to this day. Sometimes, I managed to discuss with some, covering themes like consent, animal sexual behavior, and my mental health.
On the 7th of September, two days after publishing my post, my account was suspended. That may be not surprising, however, the reasoning was. It “has been suspended for violating the Twitter Rules due to a user report. Specifically, for violating our rules against graphic violence or adult content in profile images”. My profile picture shows a grey horse facing the camera in front of a sapling forest, and my banner a few horses grazing in a field during sunset, both pictures were found by typing on DuckDuckGo “horse picture copyright free” and picking some of the first results. I appealed and the next day Twitter refused to reinstate my account without giving further explanation. I appealed again, demanded to get more details, and received the same answer.
This decision reminded me of the one pronounced in Germany in the years 2009 – 2010 when the Zeta Verein association tried to legally register as an association. It was refused as their goal was “against public decency”, no other explanation was given. It also made me think about what happened to the French community, which between 2019 and 2021 tried to present its arguments in an attempt to prevent the new law from being too harsh on zoosexuals. On the 29th of June 2021, following a complaint against an unknown that was filed by Animal Cross and its president Benoit Thomé for death threats, identity theft, and harassment, a raid took place in the houses of members of the community. (4) Two years of procedure later, no evidence had been found against them. However, following an investigation for doxing, Mr. Benoit Thomé will be trialed in 2024 for the publication on the website of his association of an “interview of a zoophile” that gave at its end the address and name of someone he thought to be a member of the community.
As was shown with this event, even tho contradictory debates shall be at the core of democracy, giving arguments defending zoosexuality can have consequences, for zoosexuals but also researchers, politicians, and journalists, and even lead to censorship. However, with the aggravation of the severity of the punishment following a conviction for zoosexual acts, the necessity of a rational examination of such a ban becomes undeniable. Therefore, the taboo surrounding this topic must be broken and, in that matter, the censorship of any debate about the prohibition of zoosexual acts on Twitter isn’t a good start.
2 Conseil Danois d’Ethique Animale, Rapport au sujet des relations sexuelles entre des êtres humains et des
animaux, Novembre 2006.
Version originale :
Version française :