Bestiality

- section 54A of the Crimes Act 1958

Bestiality is when someone has sex with a non-human animal.
The charge of Bestiality is usually heard in the Magistrate’s Court.
 
Examples of Bestiality
  • Someone has sex with a sheep.
  • Someone has sex with a horse.
We had a case where the Police could prove someone had sex with a donkey but not that it was our client. The evidence was all circumstantial and was not very strong. All charges ended up being withdrawn.
What is the legal definition of Bestiality?
The legal definition of Bestiality is having anal or vaginal sex with a non-human animal.

Legislation
The section that covers this offence is section 54A of the Crimes Act 1958.1

Elements of the offence
A person may be found guilty of Bestiality if the following elements are proven in court beyond reasonable doubt:

1. The accused intentionally sexually penetrated an animal; or
According to section 35, ‘animal’ means any animal (other than a human being), whether vertebrate or not.

‘Sexual penetration’ is defined under section 35A. It covers a wide range of conduct, and includes:

  1. The accused introduces (to any extent) a part of their body or an object into the animal’s vagina; or
  2. The accused introduces (to any extent) a part of their body or an object into the animal’s anus; or
  3. The accused introduces (to any extent) their penis into the animal’s mouth; or
  4. The accused, having introduced a part of their or an object into the animal’s vagina, continues to keep it there; or
  5. The accused, having introduced a part of their body or an object into the animal’s anus, continues to keep it there; or
  6. The accused, having introduced their penis into the animal’s mouth, continues to keep it there.
In relation to sexual penetration of an animal, a reference to the vagina or anus includes a reference to any similar part.

2. The accused caused or allowed an animal to sexually penetrate the accused
According to section 35A(4), a person is sexually penetrated by an animal if the animal sexually penetrates them as defined under 35A(1).

For example, if a donkey’s penis penetrates a human’s mouth, this is sexual penetration.
 
What are some of the possible defences to a Bestiality charge?
  • There was no sexual penetration involved.
  • Another person had sex with the animal.
Questions in cases like this
  • Is there a case of mistaken identity?
  • How can they prove there was sexual penetration?
“Looking at bestiality is not a crime, participating in it is.”

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years.
 
Generally having sex with animals is considered to be an offence that means that a person needs to have psychological treatment rather than being locked up.