A law punishing bestiality is being pushed through Parliament, Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo confirmed.
“The act of having sex with an animal is not illegal in Malta but those who do engage in bestiality could soon be punished for their actions,” he said at a press conference earlier today.
The proposed law will empower the judiciary to ban people found guilty of bestiality from occupying the same residents as the animal in question. It is a long shot from fully decriminalising bestiality in Malta, but it at least ensures that some legislation is in place to address the issue.
Under current Maltese law, a person cannot be charged for the act of having sex with an animal; they can only be charged if they injure the animal in the process.
In fact, the Animal Welfare Act does not mention bestiality, while Malta’s Criminal Code only mentions bestiality once, and only in relation to showing indecent material to underage people.
Just last year, a St Julian’s farmer found a man having sex with his flock of sheep. The man was charged in court with having illegally entered private property without permission.
The new bestiality law is expected to come into effect after summer, putting an end to loopholes that allow individuals to engage in sexual acts with animals.
“We can’t say for sure but from our end, we’ve done everything we can,” he said.
It follows a similar law passed earlier this year that empowers magistrates to ban people found guilty of animal abuse from owning pets in the future.
Other issues concerning animal welfare include the unregulated nature of dog trainers, breeders and groomers, who provide their services outside of any legal framework.
A few weeks ago a pet dog died after suffering a trachea injury whilst at a pet groomer. Following the incident, the dog’s owner took to social media to call for more regulation of pet services.
“Yes, these need to be regulated,” Refalo said. “We are proposing a number of laws so that incidents like this don’t happen again”.
Responding to a parliamentary question asked by MP Mario Galea, Refalo stated that a draft regularising the profession has already been prepared by the Veterinary Surgeons Council with stakeholders currently being consulted.
However, the issue of unregulated pet trainers and breeders continues to be an issue. While many offer pet sitting services, Malta only has two officially licensed boarding facilities on the island.
Last year, a popular, self-proclaimed dog trainer faced mounting allegations and criticism from animal activists that he could be abusing dogs under his care.
The dog trainer denied all allegations despite anecdotal accounts of dogs returning to their owners in worrying states.
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