Denmark passed legislation on Tuesday banning bestiality, in a move to tackle animal-sex tourism. Anyone found guilty of engaging in sexual relations with an animal will face fines and prison once the law goes into effect on July 1st.
The bill amends a previous ban on intercourse that harms animals, something that Farm Minister Dan Jorgensen argued was difficult to prove.
Danish lawmakers approved the ban in a 91-75 vote on Tuesday. Five abstained from voting.
Those in favor of the legislation said Denmark did not want to remain the last northern European country where bestiality was legal, as this was attracting animal-sex tourists.
“There are frequent reports of the occurrence of organized animal sex shows, clubs and animal brothels in Denmark,” the Danish Ethical Council for Animals, an independent advisory board under the food and agriculture ministry, said in a report, as quoted by Reuters. The group added that it had been unable to verify the reports.
A 2011 Justice Ministry report found that 17 percent of veterinarians surveyed suspected an animal they treated had previously been subjected to intercourse with a human.
The debate centered on whether an existing law, the Animal Welfare Act for 2015, was enough to protect animals against bestiality.
Farm Minister Dan Jorgensen didn’t believe the current law was adequate and sought to strengthen animal welfare and protection in the country.
“The current legislation does not protect the animals enough. It’s hard to prove that an animal suffers when a human has sexual intercourse with it, and that is why we must give the animal the benefit of the doubt,” he wrote in an opinion piece.
He also said earlier this month that offenders “must be made aware that we find maltreatment of animals absolutely unacceptable.”
Bengt Holst, head of the Ethical Council for Animals, agreed, saying last autumn that an amendment was necessary.
Animal rights campaigners, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), also petitioned Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Jorgensen to amend the existing legislation.
But members of the Liberal Alliance, a libertarian party, have expressed opposition to the new law.
“Best case, this is a superficial law. Worst case, it is political populism and moralism,” Liberal Alliance’s Joachim Olsen said in February, as quoted by Mashable.