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Zoo Legal & Law Canadian Bill C84 Anti-Bestiality Parlimentary Discussion Audio.

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Tabled in the House of Commons, December 6, 2018
Charter Statement - Bill C-84: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)

Definition of bestiality



Clause 1 would add a definition of "bestiality" in section 160 of the Criminal Code to include any contact, for a sexual purpose, between a person and an animal. This would respond to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W. (2016) where the Court held that the bestiality offences in section 160 of the Criminal Code are limited to sexual acts with animals that involve penetration. The broadened definition would increase protections for children, as well as other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled to engage in or witness bestiality, and animals by ensuring that the criminal law captures all sexual acts with animals, and not just those that involve penetration. By virtue of the definition's sexual purpose focus, legitimate animal husbandry or veterinary practices would continue to be excluded from the scope of the offence. The existing penalties for the bestiality offences would remain unchanged. These penalties range from a minimum term of six months imprisonment on summary conviction to one year on indictment.

The penalty provisions have the potential to engage section 12 of the Charter, which guarantees the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. Section 12 prohibits grossly disproportionate punishments. The courts have found that in some circumstances requiring the imposition of a minimum penalty could lead to a grossly disproportionate punishment.

The following considerations support the consistency of the penalties at issue with the Charter. The existing penalties apply to serious sexual offences involving persons under the age of 16. In enacting these penalties, Parliament was focused on the sentencing principles of denunciation, and general and specific deterrence and the need to separate from society those who would seek to harm children through the commission of sexual offences. The offence of bestiality in the presence of, or inciting the commission of bestiality by, a person under the age of 16 years is a serious offence, carrying a high level of moral blameworthiness. Further, the penalties do not attach to a broad array of circumstances but rather apply to a narrow range of serious conduct carrying a high degree of blame. Given the seriousness of the conduct and the importance of deterrence, the penalties are not grossly disproportionate in the circumstances.
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