The Supreme Court of Canada recently heard a disturbing case where it has been called upon to decide whether all sexual acts on animals constitute bestiality.
The case concerned a man who coaxed the family dog into performing oral sex on his two step-daughters, filming the entire incident.
The man, known only as D.L.W., was convicted of eight counts of sexual assault, two counts of child pornography and two counts of bestiality.
He appealed the bestiality convictions to the Canadian Supreme Court on the basis that the definition of bestiality does not include oral sex.
During the appeal, the Crown argued that bestiality includes all forms of sexual activity with an animal, and does not necessarily require actual penetration.
Bestiality in Canadian Law
Section 160 of the Canadian Criminal Code (1988) states that:
“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 summary conviction.”
There are additional offences for ‘compelling another to commit bestiality’ and ‘committing bestiality in the presence of someone under the age of 16’.
As the Code does not define bestiality, the appellant’s lawyers pointed to the fact that the common law definition of bestiality required actual penetration; arguing that, in the absence of a legislative definition, this remains the case.
Incensed by that submission, the Crown Prosecutor stated that:”Bestiality is bestiality. Such acts offend our moral values.”
But the Court was not impressed by this ‘it is because it is’ style argument, with Justice Russell Brown telling the Crown:
“… I think you’re reading into a section of the [law] that doesn’t say any of those things at all.”
Both sides eagerly await the Court’s decision.
Bestiality in NSW
Section 79 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states that:
“Any person who commits an act of bestiality with any animal shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”
Under section 80, any attempt to commit bestiality carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Like in Canada, our legislation fails to define bestiality – and such cases of animal cruelty are extremely rare – or, at least, are rarely discovered and prosecuted.
Between 2002 and 2009, the NSW Judicial Commission recorded just two cases of bestiality; one of which was dealt with in the Children’s Court and the other in the Local Court.