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article imageSweden set to ban bestiality in 2014

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 16, 2013 in Lifestyle
Stockholm - Sweden is set to outlaw bestiality after lawmakers ruled Thursday that a loophole in legislation which makes it legal was "unacceptable."
The new legislation which will be enacted officially on January 1, 2014 will outlaw bestiality and set aside current rules which make it permissible provided that the animal did not suffer any demonstrable physical or mental harm.
According to AFP, Sweden's Minister for Rural Affairs Eskil Erlandsson, said in a statement: "The government is now tightening the rules surrounding bestiality so there will be no doubt about the fact that it is prohibited to inflict suffering on animals. There should be no doubt that bestiality is unacceptable."
The Swedish Local reports that under current laws, sex with animals, termed bestiality, is legal if the "zoophile" can show that the animal did not suffer any physical or mental harm. According to the Daily Mail, opponents of the law have argued that the process of establishing whether the animal suffered harm introduces bizarre technicalities into legal proceedings that leave veterinarians called upon to give expert testimony confused and often distressed.
Public outcry over the issue has forced lawmakers to reconsider existing laws and propose a ban on all forms of zoosexual acts regardless of the technicalities of proving animal cruelty and thus establishing a victim in the act. From January 1, 2014, anyone caught having sex with an animal is automatically guilty of an offense and liable to a fine, a maximum prison sentence of two-years, or both.
The Local reports that Erlandsson told TT News agency: "I hope that this sort of act [bestiality] doesn't take place in society at all. And now we're putting that explicitly into law."
However, in 2008, Erlandsson came under fire when he attempted to show on the floor of the parliament, using graphic language, that it would be difficult to legislate against bestiality.
Although he expressed his disgust at the act, he sought to show that "what counts as sexual abuse of animals" is often difficult to define. The graphic language he employed in his argument offended many fellow lawmakers.
According to the Local, Democrat MP Monica Green, told the Aftonbladet newspaper: "It was distasteful. It sunk to a horrendously low level. I don't think one needs to discuss details like that in the Riksdag. He mixed up people's sexuality with animals' sexuality. His example was also appalling."
Most Swedish vets will be relieved when the new law comes into effect in January. Johan Beck-Friis, spokesman for the Swedish Federation of Veterinarians, told AFP: "It's very good that the law will be changed. It's very important that society makes a clear statement that it is unacceptable to use animals that way."
However, many have expressed concern that there may be an increase in the incidence of cases of animal abuse in the present as perpetrators anticipate the ban in January.
According to Beck-Friis, under the current law, a veterinarian who suspects that an animal has been sexually abused is often unable to prove it or may be unwilling to report his suspicions because of the torturous legal process that could follow. As a result, statistics about the incidence of animal abuse is scarce in Sweden.
However, statistics compiled in 2006 show that about 100 cases of animals suffering injuries suspected to have been caused by acts of bestiality were documented.
Sweden is not the first European country to change its laws to block the loopholes in anti-bestiality laws. According to the Daily Mail, Germany introduced a ban in December after a sharp rise in cases of bestiality which witnessed proliferation of so-called "erotic zoos" where people could pay to have sex with animals.
The common revulsion at the practice of animal sex is reflected in the fact that some of the most liberal European countries, including Netherlands, France and Switzerland, have banned it.
The penalty for bestiality in the UK ranges from two years to life imprisonment.
However, bestiality is still legal in Belgium and Denmark.
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