The recent case of a St Julian’s farmer saying a man had been sneaking into his farm and sleeping with his sheep shocked the nation – however, the legal reality when it comes to dealing with bestiality in Malta may be even more shocking.
Incredibly, Malta’s laws do not outright ban or criminalise bestiality, that is, when a person has sexual relations with an animal.
Malta’s 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.
Article 208A mentions bestiality when referring to any indecent materials that “show, depicts or represents a minor involved in acts of bestiality, brutality, sadism or torture”… but there are no provisions to charge someone with specifically sexually abusing an animal.
Discussions over Malta’s bestiality laws, or lack of, arise every few years, but they’ve never been changed – and now, animal rights organisations, as well as other prominent Maltese professionals, are calling it out.
This anomaly was most recently pointed out by TVM journalist Keith Demicoli, who covered the St Julian’s incident, and reiterated how Malta’s laws didn’t account for bestiality.
“Malta is one of an ever-decreasing number of countries which does not unequivocally ban sex with animals,” Demicoli said.
“Apparently, an exception is only made if the animal is injured in the process. In that case, a person would be tried for animal cruelty. Animals encountering sexual abuse are only afforded protection by the very limited legal provisions under the Animal Welfare Act. Is it time to change the law again?” he asked.
Reacting to this week’s incident, the Association for Abandoned Animals have also strongly called for better legal protections for animals.
“There is not one single direct provision that criminalises bestiality. Animal cruelty is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act but once again no specific reference to bestiality,” AAA said.
“Our laws need to change, bestiality needs to be criminalised. A sexual act with an animal is an automatic rape, a violent act on another species and as well a health risk to society in general. Let’s change our laws. Let’s not victimise animals further with human sexual perversion,” they urged.
Ġiljan Attard, the farmer who raised the alarm over his sheep, had described how he found his flock huddled in a corner, clearly traumatised by something, and terribly scared.
Malta is slowly gaining a stronger awareness of animal rights – just this week a man was fined €2,500 for failing to take care of his own dog.
However, not having strong laws stopping people from having sex with defenceless animals is a failure of justice, especially in 2020, and made all the worse when you realise we are one of the only countries in Europe not protecting our animals from sexual abuse.