Bestiality and animal fighting (Bill C-84)

Archived information

Bill C-84 received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019

On October 18, 2018, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada introduced legislation to amend sections of the Criminal Code in order to address gaps in the criminal law regarding bestiality and strengthen laws around animal fighting.

Proposed changes to the Criminal Code

Section 160 (Bestiality)

The Criminal Code prohibits, but does not define, bestiality. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada held in R v DLW that Canada's bestiality offences did not prohibit non-penetrative sex acts with animals. The proposed amendments would add a definition of bestiality to clarify that it involves any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal. Bestiality offences and their associated penalties, would not change.

These amendments will increase protections for children and other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled by another person to commit or witness sexual acts with animals. They will also better protect animals from violence and cruelty.

Section 445.1(1)(b) and 447 (Cruelty to Animals)

The Criminal Code includes a number of offences to address animal cruelty, particularly in the context of animal fighting. The proposed amendments will expand the existing provisions in order to protect all animals and capture all activities related to animal fighting. The changes will also prohibit:

  • promoting, arranging, assisting, taking part in, or receiving money for the fighting or baiting of animals
  • breeding, training or transporting an animal to fight another animal
  • building or maintaining any arena for animal fighting, as current prohibitions are limited to building or maintaining a cockpit, which is a place used for cockfighting

Bill C-84 represents a common ground approach to ensuring the protection of children and animals from cruelty and abuse, while ensuring the law does not interfere with legitimate and traditional farming, hunting, and trapping practices, including Indigenous harvesting rights.

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