Summary of eRumor:
In a bizarre move, Canada has legalized most sexual acts with animals.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned British Columbia man’s convictions on animal sex charges because it found that, as written, the country’s Criminal Code only criminalized the act of penetration.
The court’s ruling led to a deluge of reports that Canada had legalized sex with animals — but that claim is misleading. The court’s decision made clear that it was interpreting Criminal Code as written, and because the code criminalizing sex with animals did not include a clear definition of “beastiality,” the court’s hands were tied.
The Supreme Court of Canada did not, however, legalize sex with animals — as has been reported — it identified a legal loophole and stated in its decision that it would be up to Parliament to address it. That’s why we’re calling this one “misleading.”
The case involves a British Columbia man who was convicted on 13 counts of sexual molestation of his step-daughters, one of which involved an act with the family’s dog. The man successfully challenged the beastiality conviction in the B.C. Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada later affirmed the lower court’s finding based on how the Criminal Code was written, the CBC reports:
In a 6-1 decision Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed that ruling, rejecting the notion bestiality is an offence encompassing sexual activity of any kind between a person and an animal.
At issue was whether updates to the Criminal Code in 1955 and 1988 altered the meaning of the crime.
“The term ‘bestiality’ has a well-established legal meaning and refers to sexual intercourse between a human and an animal. Penetration has always been understood to be an essential element of bestiality,” wrote Justice Thomas Cromwell on behalf of the court.
“Parliament may wish to consider whether the present provisions adequately protect children and animals. But it is for Parliament, not the courts, to expand the scope of criminal liability for this ancient offence.”
Efforts were undertaken almost immediately in Parliament to make changes to the Criminal Code. A liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith introduced Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, which would have outlawed all sex acts with animals in the country, in addition to shark fin soup and the sale of dog and cat furs. However, the bill was defeated in October 2016 as other MPs feared it went too far, and Canada’s animal sex laws remained unchanged, CBC reports:
He floated the idea of changing the bestiality law with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s office earlier this year but says his efforts were rebuffed. He was told the minister was reluctant to act while the matter was before the Supreme Court.
“I’m surprised to see many Conservatives, but also my own Liberal government, not come out in support of my bill. Many have been caught up in this fictitious narrative that my bill will affect hunting, farming, fishing and research, which is absolutely not the case,” Erskine-Smith said.
“Hopefully this [Supreme Court ruling] will show my government, and Canadians across the country, just how outdated this law is.”
The justice minister told CBC News in a statement Thursday that reforming the animal welfare laws is “an important issue that deserves careful study. Any amendments to these provisions should be informed by broad consultations with Canadians.”
So, while claims that Canada has legalized sex with animals are based on an actual Supreme Court of Canada decision, they’re also misleading. The court found that, as written, the country’s Criminal Code on the matter was overly broad, and that it would fall upon Parliament to pass new laws to address that. There wasn’t a deliberate act to make sex with animals legal in Canada, which is why we’re calling this one “misleading.”
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