December 17, 2012 (TSR) – Germany’s lower house has passed a ban on bestiality, which has been considered technically lawful in the country since 1969. The act has split the nation, as some complain the decree would make gossip enough to land one with a hefty fine.
The government of Angela Merkel introduced the new law against the practice, saying animals should not be used “for personal sexual activities or made available to third parties for sexual activities … thereby forcing them to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their species.”
Late Thursday the Bundestag passed the tough new law against bestiality with a sweeping majority. The act includes a 25,000 euro fine.
The law is yet to be approved by Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.
The lawmakers’ intention is not teaching zoophiles a morality lesson, as one of them told RT.
“We are not policing morality but we are improving animal protection law, where we would like to specify that it is forbidden to cause suffering through a sexual relationship. But the line is when you cause suffering to an animal for your personal sexual gratification,” Hans-Michael Goldmann, MP Chairman of the parliamentary agricultural committee, said.
Ahead of the vote, animal rights groups had unfolded a huge campaign against zoophilia, battling for bestiality to be recognized as rape and defilement inflicted on an animal.
“Dogs are loyal even when they are abused – they are still going to look as if they are happy, especially when it gets enough to eat. Dogs will be happy whatever you dictate. But that is not a sign that the dog is enjoying it,” Stephanie Eschen, animal rights campaigner for Berlin Shelter for Animals told RT.
Campaigners even reportedly posted 800 addresses of zoophiles on their Facebook page, saying they would fight to take the animals away from those who practice bestiality.
German media outlets followed suit, with in particular the Berlin tabloid BZ featuring the issue on its front page in October. The picture showed a man holding his dog with the headline reading “we call it sodomy, he calls it love.” Bild magazine then joined the cause.
In July, over 93,000 Germans voted to ban bestiality in an online poll, revoking the 1969 law which dropped sex with animals notions and only prohibited cases where the animal was deemed to suffer “significant harm or pain.”
Zoophiles, however, say that they never treat animals cruelly or force them to do anything against their will.
“I need an animal to be happy. If I did not have it, there would be something missing. There are several levels of relationship with an animal. You can fall in love with your animal… then, the sexual relationship is not out of the question,” David Zimmerman from the German Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information told RT.
And there’s a growing concern that those who are against the act could take a vigilante approach to those practicing it.
“They fantasize about castrating me or taking my animals away. Our friend has found a razor blade in his post with a note “Do it yourself so we don’t have to”. Letters don’t arrive too often but it they arrive every now and again. In the subway someone was yelling at me, calling me names – I am concerned that attacks could become physical.”
Another concern which is shared by larger groups of Germans is that the new law, while finally bringing an explicit ban on zoophilia, makes indictment all too easy.
“The way this law is written means that all you need is a rumor or accusation for the agency to get involved and take your pet away. It also affects not just those who practice bestiality, where for example an animal has certain issues, and all you need is a suggestion that this could have been happened through se, and you got into an accusation spiral that reminds you of very dark times in German history,” Oliver Budinsky of Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information, told RT.
While bestiality is deemed illegal in most European countries, Germany ranks among Belgium, Denmark and Sweden as nations where its permitted. Stockholm, however, is considering changing legislation on the issue.