Sex acts with animals are legal in Canada, so long as there is no penetration involved, according to a surprise ruling issued by the Supreme Court.
The determination stemmed from a case involving a British Columbia man convicted of 13 counts sexually assaulting his stepdaughters - including one count of bestiality. But the man, identified only as "DLW", was acquitted of the bestiality count with the new ruling.
DLW's attorneys argued that bestiality linked to "buggery" - or sodomy - with animals beginning with an 1892 criminal code. Bestiality was first used in a 1955 code, but still was not defined to encompass every sex act with animals.
"Although bestiality was often subsumed in terms such as sodomy or buggery, penetration was the essence - 'the defining act' - of the offence," the court said.
Thus, the court ruled by a 7–1 majority that bestiality required penetration.
“There is no hint in any of the parliamentary record that any substantive change to the elements of the offence of bestiality was intended,” the ruling reads.
According to court record DLW smeared peanut butter on the genitals of his victims and had the family dog lick it off while he videotaped the act.
Court documents disclose that DLW attempted to have the dog perform intercourse on the stepdaughter, but that ultimately failed.
DLW is serving a 16 year prison sentence. He brought the bestitality conviction to the court on appeal.
Justice Rosalie Abella was the lone dissenter, and had suggested that the court deny the appeal.
“Acts with animals that have a sexual purpose are inherently exploitative whether or not penetration occurs,” she wrote.
Representatives for Animal Justice, who brought the case to the Supreme Court, said the ruling should encourage Parliament to act on changing "outdated" laws that fail to protect the country's animals.
"As of today, Canadian law gives animal abusers license to use animals for their own sexual gratification," executive director of Animal Justice Camille Labchuk told The Independent via emailed statement. "This is completely unacceptable, contrary to societal expectations, and cannot be allowed to continue."
Animal Justice implored Parliament to pass the Modernizing Animal Protections Act.
"This much-needed bill updates the animal offences in the Criminal Code," Ms Labchuk added, "and closes this dangerous loophole to make it crystal clear that all forms of sexual activity between a person and an animal are unacceptable."