Zoophilia and the law

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Zoophilia and the law looks at the laws governing humans performing sex acts on animals. Laws against humans performing sex acts on animals, where they exist, are concerned with the actual act, which it commonly refers to as bestiality, rather than the sexual attraction to animals. For this reason, prohibitions of zoophilic pornography is more varied; they may be unlawful if an actual sex act with an animal is involved, but the status is not clear cut if there is a mere representation, such as a painting or cartoon. In that case, normal obscenity laws will normally apply. All zoophilic imagery is widely regarded as pornography.


Laws on bestiality tend to be shaped by animal welfare concerns, moral views and cultural beliefs. In many cultures across the world having sex with animals is often seen as subhuman, immoral and distasteful.[citation needed] In many cultures, humans are seen as fundamentally different from other animals and having sex with animals is seen as defilement.[1]

Frequently, the practice of humans having sex with animals is seen as a form of animal cruelty or animal abuse, a practice sometimes called zoosadism.

Recent legislation[edit]

For centuries, sexual acts on animals were illegal under sodomy laws or "crime against nature" laws. Since the 1950s most sodomy laws have been repealed and in some places specific anti-bestiality laws have been enacted.

As of 2012, bestiality is illegal in 37 U.S. states. Most state bestiality laws were enacted between 1999 and 2012.[2] Laws were enacted in Pennsylvania in 1999,[3] Iowa in 2001,[4] Illinois in 2002,[5] Maryland in 2002,[6] Washington in 2006,[7] Arizona in 2006,[8] Indiana in 2007,[9] Tennessee in 2007,[10] Colorado in 2007,[11] Alaska in 2010,[12] and Florida in 2011.[13] Laws which prohibit non-abusive bestiality have been criticized for being discriminatory, unjust and unconstitutional.[14][15]

Outside the U.S., bestiality was outlawed in Norway in 2008,[16] The Netherlands in 2010,[17] and the Australian Capital Territory in 2011.[18]


International differences[edit]

Some jurisdictions list laws very clearly, such as England and Wales, which specifically prohibits penetration of a human being by the penis of an animal, and penetration of an animal by a human's penis.[19]

By contrast, many countries and US states are less precise about the scope of law in that they outlaw sex with animals, without defining what constitutes "sex".[citation needed]

Even if bestiality is not explicitly prohibited, there are often many other laws which can be used to effectively prosecute cases. For example, most countries have animal cruelty laws, and a prosecutor will argue that all zoophilia activity is animal abuse.[20] In some U.S. states, a person who engages in bestiality can be charged with animal cruelty.[21]

Prohibitions without specific bestiality statutes[edit]

Some countries have a range laws on their books. Sometimes sodomy laws or "crime against nature" laws are used to prosecute people who have sex with animals.

In the case of Kenneth Pinyan, who died from injuries sustained from receiving anal sex from a horse, local law enforcement found that there were no laws that allowed them to prosecute his friend, who had filmed the event and also allowed himself to be sodomized by the horse. The friend was prosecuted for trespassing. That case prompted the Washington State legislature to draw up legislation outlawing sex with animals.[22]

In a 2005 Florida case, a man who had sex with his dog was charged with disorderly conduct, since the state had no anti-bestiality laws on the books at the time.[23] On October 1, 2011 the state of Florida State Law 828.126, F.S went into effect, banning sex with animals.[24]

Laws against zoophilia[edit]

Aggrawal has discussed extensively on laws against zoophilia.[25] It is permitted in a few countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, although ordinary animal treatment laws apply. In other countries, such as Russia, bestiality is legal, but zoophilia pornography is illegal.

There are also commonly laws against forcing another person to engage in zoophilia activity, especially minors (usually considered equivalent to rape), and laws related to exposing others (either non-consensually or minors) to the sight of a sexual act. In some jurisdictions, laws against zoophilia conduct also include provisions for seizure of animals where convicted.

Sexual handling of an animal for the purposes of veterinary practice, or animal husbandry (breeding), is normally exempted where such laws exist. In public discussion for the recently passed Oregon law, however, one animal shelter's spokesperson wanted the husbandry exemption kept out, as he was concerned that someone might use these "accepted farming practices" as a legal loophole to then have (legal) sexual contact with an animal only for personal enjoyment. One of the legislators responded by asking if they were trying to outlaw an act (of sexual contact), or a state of mind. The veterinary and husbandry exemption was left out of Oregon's law in the final, enacted version.

Zoophilic pornography[edit]

Main articles with legal sections: Obscenity, Pornography, Legal status of internet pornography

The legality of pornography has three components: legality of production, legality of sale and transportation, and legality of ownership. In general, animal pornography is legal to produce where both zoophilic activity and the creation of pornography in general are legal. Laws concerning sale, transmission and ownership vary more widely.

Erotic art, such as animal pornography in cartoons and the like, which does not require the recording of an actual sexual act, are not usually considered sex with animals by the law, and so their status depends upon more general laws such as legal limits upon obscenity or pornography alone, and the thin line between erotic art and pornography.

National laws[edit]

Country or territoryZoosexual activitySale and distribution of zoophilic pornographyOwnership of zoophilic pornography
Australia AustraliaNo Illegal
(Legality varies by state/territory)[26]
Belgium BelgiumNo Illegal since 2007
(Penalty: Maximum of 1 year in prison for recidivism, 6 months maximum otherwise + fine)[27]
No Illegal
Yes[citation needed]
Brazil BrazilYes Legal[29][need quotation to verify][30][need quotation to verify] since 1830 (via repeal of sodomy laws)Yes Legal, never criminalized[30][31]Yes Legal, never criminalized
Cambodia CambodiaYes Legal[32]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Canada CanadaNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 10 years in prison
Maximum of 12 years if in presence of or by child)[33]
No Illegal
Yes[citation needed]
Denmark DenmarkYes Legal since 1933[34]Yes Legal[citation needed]Yes Legal[citation needed]
Ecuador EcuadorNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 8 years in prison)[35]
Ethiopia EthiopiaNo Illegal
(Penalty: Imprisonment (no length given)[36]
Finland FinlandYes Legal since 1971[34]No Illegal
France FranceNo Illegal since 2004
(Penalty: Maximum of 2 years in prison and € 30,000 fine)[38]
Germany GermanyNo Illegal since 2013
(Penalty: Maximum of € 25,000 fine)[39]
No Illegal
Yes Legal[citation needed]
Ghana GhanaNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 3 years in prison)[41]
Hong Kong Hong KongNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 10 years in prison and $50,000 fine)[42]
Hungary HungaryYes Legal since 1961[citation needed]No Illegal[citation needed]
Yes Legal[citation needed]
Republic of Ireland IrelandNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of life in prison)[43]
India IndiaNo Illegal
Iran IranNo Illegal
(Penalty: First three convictions are punished by ta'zir as determined by a judge
Fourth offense is the death penalty)[45]
Italy ItalyYes Legal[46][better source needed]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Japan JapanYes Legal[citation needed]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Malaysia MalaysiaNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 20 years in prison, fines, and whipping)[47]
Mexico MexicoYes Legal[34]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Namibia NamibiaNo Illegal
Netherlands NetherlandsNo Illegal since 2010
(Penalty: Maximum of 1 year in prison and € 19,500 fine)[49]
No Illegal since 2010
(Penalty: Maximum of 6 months in prison and a fine)[50]
No Illegal since 2010
New Zealand New ZealandNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 7 years in prison
Maximum of 3 years in prison)[51][52]
No Illegal
No Illegal
Norway NorwayNo Illegal since 2008
No Illegal since 2008
Yes Legal[citation needed]
Philippines PhilippinesYes Legal[54]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Poland PolandNo Illegal since 2012
(Penalty: Maximum 3 years in prison, donation to animal welfare charity and prohibition of owning an animal for up to 10 years. If done in order to distribute or sell the penalty is increased to a minimum of 6 months and maximum of 8 years in prison)[55]
No Illegal
(Penalty: minimum of 6 months and maximum 8 years in prison)[56]
Yes Legal (as long as it is not owned with intention of publicizing, sharing or selling)
Portugal PortugalYes Legal[46]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Romania RomaniaYes Legal[57]No Illegal
Russia RussiaYes Legal[46]No Illegal
No Illegal
Singapore SingaporeNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 2 years in prison and fine)[59]
South Africa South AfricaNo Illegal
(Penalty: determined by judge)[60]
No Illegal
(Penalty: maximum 5 years in prison and R200,000 fine)[61]
Sweden SwedenNo Was legal since 1944,[62][63][64] outlawed since 1 January 2014[65]Yes Legal[citation needed]Yes Legal[citation needed]
Switzerland SwitzerlandNo Illegal
No Illegal
No Illegal
Thailand ThailandYes Legal[68]Emblem-question.svgEmblem-question.svg
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and TobagoNo Illegal
Turkey TurkeyNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 30 years in prison)[citation needed]
No Illegal[citation needed]No Illegal[citation needed]
United Kingdom United KingdomNo Illegal since 1290
(Penalty: Maximum of 2 years in prison for conviction on indictment
Maximum of 6 months in prison and a fine for summary conviction)[70] (see Sexual Offences Act 2003)
No Illegal since 2008
(Penalty:)[71] (see Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008)
No Illegal since 2008
(Penalty:) (see Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008)
United States United States
No / Yes Varies by state, territory, or district.No / Yes Varies by state, territory, or district.No / Yes Varies by state, territory, or district.
Zambia ZambiaNo Illegal
(Penalty: Maximum of 5 years in prison)[72]


Mentions in the press[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Michigan State University College of Law". Animallaw.info. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  3. ^ "Accidentally Decriminalized, Bestiality To Go Back On Books - Philly.com". Articles.philly.com. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  4. ^ "Iowa Animal Anti-Cruelty Statute". Animallaw.info. 2004-04-09. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  5. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-11614863.html
  6. ^ "Maryland Consolidated Cruelty Statutes". Animallaw.info. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  7. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer (2 March 2006). "Lawmakers vote to make bestiality illegal in this state". The Seattle Times. 
  8. ^ "Governor signs bill to ban bestiality - Tucson Citizen Morgue, Part 1 (2006-2009)". Tucsoncitizen.com. 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  9. ^ "Indiana Consolidated Cruelty Statutes". Animallaw.info. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  10. ^ "States considering laws against bestiality - OhMyGov News". Ohmygov.com. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  11. ^ Brown, Jennifer (April 17, 2007). "Bill adds bestiality to animal cruelty law". Denver Post. 
  12. ^ Drake, Bruce. "Bill to Criminalize Bestiality Advances in Alaska Legislature". Politicsdaily.com. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  13. ^ "Anti-Bestiality Law Finally Passes In Florida « CBS Miami". Miami.cbslocal.com. 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  14. ^ http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/cutteridgepaper.pdf
  15. ^ Roberts, Michael (2009). "The Unjustified Prohibition against Bestiality: Why the Laws in Opposition Can Find No Support under the Harm Principle". SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1328310. 
  16. ^ [2][dead link]
  17. ^ "Dutch Parliament OKs Ban on Beastiality – In the News –". Last.fm. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  18. ^ http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_40369/20101209-46298/pdf/db_40369.pdf
  19. ^ "[3]", Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 69.
  20. ^ The argument that "all sexual activity with animals is automatically abuse" was made for example, in 1) the 2004 case of State vs. Mitchell (Florida), 2) the 2004 Pony case in Utrecht, Holland (cited below), and 3) the 2006 Washington state law which asserts as its foundational premise that "animal cruelty in the first degree is committed when a person knowingly engages in sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal." SB-6417 2006
  21. ^ http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20110616/NEWS01/106160306/Richland-Co-dog-warden-investigates-bestiality-case-Shelby
  22. ^ "The Animal In You". The Stranger. February–March 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-30. 
  23. ^ Man charged with having intercourse with his Guide Dog (dead link)
  24. ^ http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/0344/BillText/er/PDF
  25. ^ Aggrawal, Anil (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4200-4308-2. 
  26. ^ Ref: Halsbury's Laws of Australia #9 page 247662: Criminal offence: New South Wales (Crimes Act 1900 s79, not more than 14 years imprisonment), Northern Territory (Criminal Code s138, not more than 3 years imprisonment), Queensland (Criminal Code s211: "carnal knowledge of an animal", not more than 7 years imprisonment), South Australia (Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 s69, "buggery with an animal", not more than 10 years imprisonment), Tasmania (Criminal Code s122(b), not more than 21 years imprisonment), Victoria (Crimes Act 1958 s59, not more than 5 years imprisonment), Western Australia (Criminal Code s181: "carnal knowledge of an animal", not more than 7 years imprisonment), Australian Capital Territory (Crimes Act 1900 s63A inserted in 2011, "Bestiality", not more than 10 years imprisonment).
  27. ^ Kamercommissie stelt seks met dieren dan toch strafbaar-De Standaard
  28. ^ [4], no longer accessible
  29. ^ Revista Época – Sex with animals: why do pretend that it does not exist? (Portuguese)
  30. ^ a b Ecce Bestia: Vice with Animals (Portuguese)
  31. ^ Sex with animals as an extreme practice in the 'bizarre porn' genre in Brazil (Portuguese)
  32. ^ News24 - Redirect
  33. ^ Criminal Code of Canada - 160. Bestiality
  34. ^ a b c Sex law index and discussion
  35. ^ Ecuador Penal Code - Art. 517
  36. ^ Criminal Code of Ethiopia 2004 - Article 633.- Sexual Intercourse with an Animal.
  37. ^ 18 § (9.7.2004/650) Sukupuolisiveellisyyttä loukkaavan kuvan levittäminen
  38. ^ [French Penal Code - Chapter one: Serious abuse or acts of cruelty animals. - Article 521-1]
  39. ^ German Legislators Vote to Outlaw Bestiality
  40. ^ § 184a StGB Verbreitung gewalt- oder tierpornographischer Schriften §184a StGB
  41. ^ Section 104-Unnatural Carnal Knowledge
  42. ^ Bestiality
  43. ^ [30.61] Sodomy and bestiality s. 61
  44. ^ Section 377. Unnatural offences.
  45. ^ e. Vaty-e heyvanat va Mayet-e-insan (bestiality and necrophilia), four offenses
  46. ^ a b c History of Zoophilia and The Law
  47. ^ Buggery with an animal - 377.
  48. ^ Namibia: Rehoboth Man Arrested for Bestiality
  49. ^ Article 254
  50. ^ "wetten.nl - Wet- en regelgeving - Wetboek van Strafrecht - BWBR0001854" (in (Dutch)). Wetten.overheid.nl. 2012-12-24. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  51. ^ Crimes Act 1961 - 143 - Bestiality
  52. ^ Crimes Act 1961 - 144 - Indecency with animal
  53. ^ With regard to § 14. Specific Bans
  54. ^ catholic filipino charged for raping dog he also loves pigs too
  55. ^ "Internetowy System Aktów Prawnych". Isap.sejm.gov.pl. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  56. ^ Polish Penal Code, Article 202, Section 3.
  57. ^ Bestiality and Zoophilia: Sexual Relations with Animals
  58. ^ "Legea privind prevenirea si combaterea pornografiei", Nr. 196/2003, Monitorul Oficial al României, Partea I,. nr. 342 din 20 mai 2003
  59. ^ “Sexual penetration with living animal 377B.
  60. ^ Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, s. 13.
  61. ^ Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996 s. 24A(2) read with s. 18(3)(b)(ii).
  62. ^ Sweden proposes ban on sex with animals
  63. ^ Another blow for bestiality
  64. ^ http://zoofili.se/zoodoks/rydstrom/rydstrom%20between%20men%20and%20animals.pdf
  65. ^ "Sweden proposes 'total' ban on bestiality - The Local". Thelocal.se. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  66. ^ SR 455.1 Tierschutzverordnung Art. 16 j.
  67. ^ See FJ 2000 p. 2981.
  68. ^ May 2004 Update from the Land of Randy Pandas
  69. ^ Mayaro labourer on bestiality charge
  70. ^ Intercourse with an animal
  71. ^ Extreme porn law used on beastly Chinese DVD pirates
  72. ^ Zambian Penal code Cap 87 Section 115; Unnatural Offences
  73. ^ [5][dead link]
  74. ^ "Africa | Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat". BBC News. 2006-02-24. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  75. ^ [6][dead link]
  76. ^ Haines, Lester (22 March 2007). "Sex with dead deer is illegal, US man finds". The Register. 
  77. ^ Rabiner, Stephanie (2012-04-06). "Dog Molester Won't Have to Register as Sex Offender - Legally Weird". Blogs.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  78. ^ "100494 - State v. Coman - Greene - Kansas Court of Appeals". Kscourts.org. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  79. ^ "Vancouver man faces bestiality charge". CBC News. 26 February 2012. 
  80. ^ "Pair plead guilty in Craigslist bestiality case". CBS 5. 28 June 2012.