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Bill to Outlaw Bestiality & Animal Fighting Passes House of Commons Vote

Animal Justice May 9, 2019

The House of Commons voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass Bill C-84, government legislation that would outlaw all forms of bestiality, and close loopholes related to animal fighting.

Bill C-84 was introduced last year in response to the 2016 Supreme Court case of R v DLW, which found that Canada’s laws are so outdated that most forms of bestiality are not currently illegal. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight on behalf of animals, and has been pushing for action to close the disturbing bestiality loophole ever since then.

Now, Bill C-84 will go to the Senate for further debate, study, and voting. The end of the Parliamentary session is only weeks away, and if the Senate doesn’t pass the bill before the end of June, it will die when Parliament rises for the summer break and fall election.

In addition to outlawing all forms of bestiality, the legislation also improves laws against animal fighting. Animal Justice testified in support of Bill C-84 at the House of Commons Justice Committee, and made two recommendations that the Committee ultimately accepted—to allow judges to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals, and to eliminate a mandatory death sentence currently imposed on roosters rescued from cockfighting rings.

Although Bill C-84 is a step in the right direction, it is narrow in scope and is only a small effort toward improving Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws. During the debate that preceded the House of Commons vote, representatives from all parties repeatedly highlighted the importance of protecting animals, improving Canada’s legal protections for animals, and advancing animal rights more generally. Many MPs pushed the government to uphold its promise to overhaul Canada’s animal cruelty laws, and spoke in support of striking an all-party committee to examine the issue.

As Liberal MP Anthony Housefather stated during the debate, “Animal cruelty laws in Canada need to be vastly improved. We have laws that were adopted in the 1890s, slightly amended in the 1950s and they have unfortunately not been radically revamped in the world we live in today where most of us recognize that animals should not be treated as pure property. Animals are sentient beings. Animals can suffer. Most animals have the ability to know whether they are feeling pain. Today, our animal cruelty laws are, unfortunately, many years behind the times.”

 

 

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Parliamentary Committee Supports Animal Justice’s Changes to Bestiality & Animal Fighting Laws

Animal Justice February 22, 2019

The House of Commons Justice Committee approved changes proposed by Animal Justice to Bill C-84, an animal cruelty bill that would improve laws related to bestiality and animal fighting.

Bill C-84 would make all sexual abuse of animals illegal. Currently, non-penetrative sexual contact with animals is not a criminal offence, in the wake of a shocking Supreme Court decision in 2016. But originally, the bill didn’t give judges the ability to ban a person convicted of bestiality from owning or residing with animals in the future. Animal Justice proposed this amendment earlier this month while testifying before the Justice Committee, and and Members of Parliament unanimously adopted this critical change at a meeting this week.

Animal Justice also encouraged the Justice Committee to repeal a provision of Canada’s animal fighting laws that imposed an automatic death sentence for birds rescued from a cockfighting ring. Animal Justice told the Committee that birds forced to fight deserve our compassion, and should be assessed as individuals to see if they can receive veterinary attention and be sent to live in the care of an animal sanctuary. The Justice Committee approved this change as well, potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of innocent birds from unfair execution.

Now, Bill C-84 will move back to the House of Commons for a final vote, and will then be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Animal Justice executive director Camille Labchuk and board member Peter Sankoff testified before the Justice Committee in support of Bill C-84, and we are grateful to committee members from all political parties who worked together to strengthen this legislation by accepting our amendments. However, Canada’s animal cruelty laws still fall very far behind the rest of the western world, and Animal Justice will keep fighting for stronger laws that better reflect Canadian values of compassion and respect for animals.

 

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Photo: Sandy Sharkey Photography

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Government (Finally) Moves to Close Bestiality Loophole

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

After a courtroom showdown and years of advocacy by Animal Justice, the federal government finally introduced legislation today to close Canada’s bestiality loophole. The new law also strengthens animal fighting offences. Animal Justice welcomes this news, but believes it is still not enough. The legislation still fails to deliver more comprehensive reform to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Over two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that most forms of bestiality are not illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight bestiality, and urged the federal government to take immediate action to update the laws once the shocking decision was released.

Yet it took years to see action. In 2016, the Liberal government killed a bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith that would have updated Canada’s archaic animal cruelty laws and addressed bestiality. The public was outraged, and in response government officials promised to launch broad consultations and improve the animal cruelty laws.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to address bestiality in 2017, and sponsored a parliamentary petition started by Animal Justice that gathered thousands of signatures. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted the government, seeking stronger laws.

Although the government has finally taken action, Animal Justice believes that animals deserve far more than what they got. Canada still has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the western world, and this legislation does nothing to change that. Surprisingly, the new laws don’t even give courts the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, leaving vulnerable animals at risk of ongoing sexual abuse.

In the news release announcing the law, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould emphasized that the bill wouldn’t interfere with “farming, hunting, and trapping practices,” suggesting the government continues to listen to animal-use industries that profit from animal cruelty, rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support strengthening animal cruelty laws.

Animal Justice will push for changes to the new legislation to ensure those convicted of bestiality cannot own animals in the future, and will continue to fight for an overhaul of Canada’s last-century animal cruelty laws.

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