Sexually abusing animals is finally illegal in Canada after a loophole in bestiality was closed.
Until the legislation was amended, non-penetrative acts with animals were not in breach of the country’s Criminal Code.
The loophole came to light following a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016.
A man was jailed for 16 years in 2013 for sexually abusing his stepdaughters. His sentence included two years for bestiality as he engaged in certain acts with dogs.
He was able to appeal the bestiality conviction after the judge accepted the prosecutor’s position that penetration is not required. But that conviction was overturned following the appeal.
The shocking case prompted lawmakers to clear up any ambiguity in the legislation on animal abuse.
After two failed attempts to pass the law, the new Bill C-84 redefines bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal”.
Senator Vernon White said: “The failure to fix this law is not without consequence. Last year, there was at least one bestiality charge that was thrown out because it did not meet the limited definition that currently exists.”
Bill C-84 will also tighten up the language around a ban on animal fighting.
“These changes make it clear that any sexual contact with an animal is a serious crime and ensures that abusers are banned from owning animals, which will prevent them from causing further harm,” said Shawn Eccles, BC SPCA senior manager.
The bill was amended at one point to ensure that those convicted of bestiality would be placed on the Sex Offender Registry.