Saying that research shows a “well-established link between bestiality and child sex abuse,” Canada’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced on Thursday that the federal government has tabled legislation to strengthen federal laws around animal cruelty and bestiality.
Known as Bill C-84, Wilson-Raybould said the bill has two main points.
First of all, she said, the bill “closes the gap in our criminal law, identified by the Supreme Court of Canada in their 2016 decision… in which the court ruled that the existing definition of bestiality only covers penetrative acts.”
In direct response, she continued, Bill C-84 “will add a definition of bestiality provisions in the criminal code to make it clear that the offence prohibits any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal.”
In a release, the government said that as it currently stands, the Criminal Code prohibits, but does not define, bestiality. The proposed amendments would add a definition of bestiality to clarify that it involves any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal. Bestiality offences and their associated penalties, would not change.
The Criminal Code also includes a number of offences to address animal cruelty, particularly in the context of animal fighting.
The proposed amendments will expand the existing provisions in order to protect all animals and capture all activities related to animal fighting. The changes will also prohibit:
- Promoting, arranging, assisting, taking part in, or receiving money for the fighting or baiting of animals
- Breeding, training or transporting an animal to fight another animal
- Building or maintaining any arena for animal fighting, as current prohibitions are limited to building or maintaining a cockpit, which is a place used for cockfighting
The government said Bill C-84 represents a “common ground approach” to ensuring the protection of children and animals from cruelty and abuse, while ensuring the law does not interfere with legitimate and traditional farming, hunting, and trapping practices, including Indigenous harvesting rights.
“By ensuring that all forms of bestiality are protected, the criminal justice system will better protect animals from cruelty and violence, as well as well as our most vulnerable from being exposed to terrible acts,” said Wilson-Raybould.