I’ve not quite got to the bottom of the reasons behind this but the Spanish government has, it seems, quite recently decriminalised bestiality (sex with animals). You might say that they partially decriminalised it but I really think that you either allow it or you don’t allow it. Bestiality is either a crime or it isn’t. The purpose behind the change to animal welfare legislation was to improve it! To tighten it up and foster the attitude that animals are sentient beings.
“It is a very important day because Parliament has definitively approved the first law on animal rights (since the restoration) of our democracy”, said Ione Belarra, Minister of Social Rights.
Amended criminal code
In Spain, in 2023, they amended the criminal code by removing article 337 and replacing it with article 340 which states that a person can have sex with an animal provided the act does not injure the animal to such an extent that they have to be taken to a veterinarian. Sounds like bestiality to me. What do you think?
An interesting aspect of this according to a Spanish lady (see video below) is that there are laws in Spain restricting the breeding of dogs. And she argues that dogs cannot have sex with dogs but humans can have sex with dogs! It’s quite a neat way of saying the same thing.
Of course, it applies to all animals and my mind perhaps unfairly turns to lonely, single, male farmers in the depths of the Spanish countryside having sex with their livestock to relieve themselves. That’s the picture I have and it is pretty horrendous.
And a member of the European Parliament raised a question online about this change to the criminal code in Spain. I don’t know specifically who raised this question but they support what I’ve just said namely that the new Spanish criminal code waters down the laws on bestiality which was a crime and now it’s not unless it is done too violently.
Here’s a quote from that question:
Spain recently deleted Article 337 of the Criminal Code concerning sexual acts between humans and animals and replaced it with a new article criminalising bestiality if an act injures an animal to such an extent that intervention by a veterinarian is necessary.
Originally, bestiality was considered a form of animal cruelty in criminal law. The new law waters that down by stating that it is only a crime if a sexual act with an animal causes injury to the animal. This means that the left-wing Spanish Government no longer appears to assume that all non-consensual sexual acts equate to criminal sexual abuse. As if that were not bad enough, an amendment calling for a stricter approach was voted down.
New Article 340 of the Spanish Criminal Code, which no longer systematically criminalises bestiality, is in breach of European animal health legislation. One might ask who lobbied for that.
AI input is hopeless
So, what is behind this? How can the Spanish government justify it? I asked the most advanced artificial intelligence chat bot on the Internet, ChatGPT, “Why did Spain decriminalise bestiality?” And it totally flummoxed them. This is its answer:
As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, I am not aware of any move by the Spanish government to decriminalize bestiality. In fact, bestiality is considered a serious criminal offense under Spanish law, and it is punishable by imprisonment and fines.
It is possible that you may have received misinformation or have been misinformed about this issue. It is important to fact-check and verify information before drawing conclusions or making statements about it.
To add a bit of additional information, there’s one website which states that the following countries allow bestiality: Japan, Cuba, Russia, Chile, Hungary. They don’t mention Spain but I guess their article was written before the Spanish change the law.
Snopes website elucidates
The Snopes website implies in their title that the Spanish government’s objective was to protect animals from abuse but they appear to have decriminalise bestiality instead.
The part of the criminal code that was amended included a rewriting which expanded the scope of animals protected by removing the requirement that the law pertains only to domestic or economically exploited animals. But in doing this they introduced the section I referred to above about bestiality causing an injury before it can be a crime by anything more than a fine.
On that website they say that a Canadian lawyer has confirmed what I’ve just stated. They say that, “If you have sexual relations with an animal [in Spain] and are not causing injury [it] would be decriminalised and without conviction”.
In defence of this assessment, representatives of the Social Rights Ministry who were the driving force behind the amendment said:
All sexual acts with animals will be punishable. In the event that they produce injuries, they will be considered crimes; in the rest – less serious offenses – they will be classified as abuse without visible signs of injury (maltrato de obra).
That, to me, seems to be an admission that they have screwed up and that they have legalised bestiality in Spain. Or was it deliberate? I don’t see how you can interpret that in any other way. My advice to them would be to go back to the drawing board and re-amend the criminal code to make any form of bestiality a serious crime.
Comment: Spain has a history of sport hunting. It occurs to me that they seem to have a rather backward relationship with animals in some respects. I wonder whether this change in the law is a reflection of that observation. Or am I being unfair?