Some sexual acts with animals may be legal in Canada, thanks to the poor wording of laws originally meant to outlaw gay sex.
Pre-Canada days: the church
Canada created its own law banning "buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature."
As the Criminal Code was reformed, bestiality was added for the first time but was still tied to buggery.
It stated: "Every one who commits buggery or bestiality is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years."
Politicians realized the criminal code is badly out of date and made reforms. The offences of rape, attempted rape and sexual intercourse with the feebleminded were folded into the new crime of sexual assault.
Bestiality also became its own offence for the first time. But it was not given any new language that explicitly expanded its scope.
The defence's case is that history is clear — bestiality always required penetration, and despite reforming the law twice Parliament never expanded it to refer to other acts.
The Crown interprets the history differently. But mostly government lawyers are arguing that courts need to take a modern perception of these crimes.
"Common sense suggests that the (man)'s conduct in encouraging and facilitating his vulnerable young stepdaughter to have oral sex with the family dog is on an equal moral plane as if he had arranged for her to have penetrative sex with the family dog. Surely both activities are abhorrent to society's fundamental values," the Crown argues in its submission to the Supreme Court.
What about the animals?
The British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that the protection of animals does is not a factor in this case.
Because of this, the group Animal Justice has stepped in as an intervenor.
They argue that the definition of the crime must take into account the values of protecting vulnerable animals and the wrongfulness of sexual conduct with a participant that is not able to consent.
The Crown, the defence, and Animal Justice will all argue their cases in front of the Supreme Court next Monday. A decision will likely come later.
If the defence wins, any non-penetrative sexual acts with animals will be legal in Canada. New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would then be stuck with the unexpected task of passing new bestiality laws — quickly.
Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Paul McLeod at email@example.com.
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