Denmark moved one step closer to banning bestiality on Tuesday when parliament took up a first reading of Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen’s proposal to outlaw sex with animals.
The proposal, first introduced in October, will make bestiality punishable by up to one year in prison for a first offence or two years for repeat offenders.
“An animal by its very nature cannot say no. An animal by its very nature also has a hard time proving that the animal has been hurt by a sexual act. Therefore, we need new legislation that ensures that the consideration of the animal comes first,” Jørgensen said in parliament, as quoted by Jyllands-Posten.
Only the libertarian party Liberal Alliance is against the ban.
“Best case, this is a superficial law. Worst case, it is political populism and moralism,” the party’s Joachim Olsen told Jyllands-Posten.
In announcing his decision in October, Jørgensen said that the damage done to Denmark’s reputation by allowing animal sex was a factor in his decision.
In recent years, Denmark has been left geographically isolated as the only country not to ban bestiality. Sweden banned it in April of last year, while Norway outlawed it in 2011. Sex with animals is also illegal in Germany. This has reportedly led to an underground animal sex tourism industry in Denmark.
The international community most recently focused on Denmark’s lack of an animal sex ban following a Vice documentary from August of last year. The American news crew spoke with both zoophiles who argue that they are not harming the animals they have sex and animal rights activists who have worked for years to have the practice banned in Denmark.
In expressing his party’s support for the bestiality ban, Erling Bonnesen of main opposition party Venstre pointed to the negative impact on Denmark’s international image.
“It’s important that Denmark is not viewed as a country where sexual relations with animals are allowed,” he told Jyllands-Posten.
The Danish Animal Ethics Council (Det Dyreetiske Råd) has argued against the need for a ban, saying that the nation’s current laws – which allow bestiality except in cases where the animal can be proved to have suffered – are enough.
“Seen from the animals’ perspective, suffering is already taken into account in the Animal Welfare Act. So you can think whatever you’d like about animal sex, but it is not the Animal Ethics Council’s job to moralize,” the council’s chairman, Bengt Holst, told Ritzau in October.
The proposed bestiality ban will go through two more additional readings in parliament before coming up for a final vote, at which time it is expected to pass easily. The proposal also includes restrictions on where dogs can be sold in an effort to cut down on impulse buys that are later regretted.