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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was introduced last year in response to the 2016 Supreme Court case of R v DLW, which found that Canada’s laws are so outdated that most forms of bestiality are not currently illegal.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Bill C-84 is a step in the right direction, it is narrow in scope and is only a small effort toward improving Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.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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Animal Justice Fights for Animals in Canada’s Top Court

Animal Justice November 6, 2015

On November 9, 2016, Animal Justice argued before the Supreme Court of Canada in a groundbreaking case that will decide whether some forms of sexual abuse of animals are acceptable under Canadian criminal law.

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.

The case – Her Majesty the Queen v. D.L.W. – is an appeal from a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal that seriously weakened the Criminal Code offence of bestiality. Instead of ensuring that all sexual abuse of animals remains illegal, the Court of Appeal ruled that only the penetration of animals is an offence.

As an intervener in the case, Animal Justice will ensure the Court hears why preventing harm to vulnerable animals is not only a fundamental societal value, but also a key objective of Canadian criminal law. Our lawyers Peter Sankoff, Professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of Animal Justice argued that it must remain illegal to sexually abuse animals in any way, shape, or form.

The stakes in this appeal couldn’t be higher. If the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal decision, it will essentially legalize many forms of sexual abuse of animals right across the country. If that happens, we’ll take the fight to Parliament and ask the government to protect vulnerable creatures from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Resources:

The Supreme Court of Canada docket for R. v. D.L.W. is found here.
Animal Justice’s Factum is found here.
Animal Justice’s Motion to Intervene in the appeal is found here.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal decision is found here.

Want to learn more? Check out this video blog by Peter Sankoff to brush up on the details of the case, this article by legal blog The Court, and this BuzzFeed story to learn about the history of the offence of bestiality.

Animal Justice

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