How is Zoophilia socially acceptable ?

April 22, 2016  //  By:   //  DISCUSS  //  No Comment

 

You have just landed in Denmark, and as a foreigner you’ve only heard positive things about this idyllic country: happiest nation of the world, advanced society and model of equality. As it goes for the Danes, beautiful and respectful people, in a rather uncommonly unpretentious way.

You were indeed far from imagining what is happening in the danish countryside.  That’s what happened to me, anyway.

Denmark is an internationally recongnized destination for zoophilia tourism. Besides being the biggest consumers of meat in Europe, this tourism attracts busloads of tourists mainly from Germany and Austria. These Danes definitely have something with the beasts ! Before you get all worked up though, I can assume you most Danes are sane, and that’s why, as of April 2015, this is not legal. Thus this month, we celebrate the first anniversary of the law banning zoophilia !

Supported by 67% of the population, the law was voted mainly to fight against sex tourism and also to follow the example of the other countries of the European Union. Denmark was also afraid to become a tourism mecca for zoophilia due to the simultaneous prohibition in the neighbouring countries : France in 2004, Germany in 2012, and Sweden later on in 2013.

This complex societal phenomenon has given rise to numerous public debates and it appears that there are plenty of explanations for this late voting in Denmark and European countries in general. We might be tempted to explain this delay by the fact that the victimes are animals, and therefore have no direct public voice or means to defence…There is actually far more controversy on this issue than one could think ! In order to have a better understanding of this recent law and issues on society, let’s get a little insight into this zoophilia question…

In the western societies of the 21st century, it is entirely normal and natural for a human to have emotional interractions with pets. While different types of relations are accepted, the ones inducing a sexual perspective are considered to be abnormal, or against-nature. If most of the laws prohibiting zoophilia date back to the 21st century, it has been a very long time that zoophilia is harshly punished. In France, in the Middle Ages, it was considered as a « crime against-nature » and very strongly repressed, death penalty was the most common punishment. This idea of abnormality comes (with no surprise) from religion. Christians indeed consider it as immoral while Islam forbids this practice completely. This is thus interesting to notice that, unlike the past time, humans are not anymore punished for the immoral act of zoophilia itself, but for hurting the animals. Eventhough, it is well known that humans are generally not very concerned about animal suffering, who, by the way, may suffer much more from the food industry.

The new legislation was finally born thanks to animal rights activists. Thereby, what is most disturbing than animal suffering is certainly human deviance. This leads us to my following statement: if we had the certainty of the non-suffering of animals, we could therefore legalise zoophilia to a certain extent.

Moreover, we actually don’t know to what extent animals are suffering from these practices, which certainly depends on the kind of animal of course, and the practice. Indeed, most of the people practicing zoophilia assert that they are absolutely not cruel to animals and many present themselves as advocates for Animal Welfare. This is also what is claimed by the German association ZETA, whose creation was made possible in the 1990s by the rise of the internet which allowed zoophiles to discuss anonymously and safely.

ZETA is an acronym and stands for « Zoophiles for ethical treatment of animals ». The association’s rules and principles are very widespread in the community and generally accepted as « common sense ». Some of their principles include for example, considering « the well being of an animal companion as important as ones own », or placing « the animal’s will and wellbeing ahead of one’s desires for sexual gratification ». ZETA’s principles also include to « censor sexual exploitation of animals for the purpose of financial gain » or to censure those who « practice and promote animal sexual abuse ».

There are indeed different types of zoophilia. And while with some it can be seen as down-right cruelty, for others it is more a notion of love and affection. Zoophiles present the new laws prohibiting zoophilia as resulting from a lack of knowledge and coming from the disgust, induced by society, over a coupling between a human and an animal. As some philosophers consider these laws as « irrational » claiming that they constitute a violation of individual freedom.

Having considered more deeply this issue of zoophilia, we can now really ask the question: Is it really legitimate to completely ban zoophilia ? Should we put more effort in distinguishing its different types ? Does this mean we should focus our energy on just forbidding animal prostitution and laying down some rules to ban animal’s abuse ? Can we really consider zoophilia as ethical if it does’t hurt animals ?

In such a free society as the Danish one, always at the forefront, can the legislation prohibiting zoophilia be considered as a step backwards ? We could fairly imagine, especially when looking at associations such as ZETA, that zoophilia could go back to being legal in a few years. Of course to a certain extent and including a set of rules to ban animal abuse and prostitution.

Will zoophiles be the next fashionable minority fighting for their rights in the next years ? Or can they already be considered as such ?

This is not certain and the questions raised are hard to answer, but I wonder, what do you think?


About the Author :

Séverine Guex is an exchange student coming from the french part of Switzerland. Studying political science, History and History of Arts, which makes her particularly sensitive to contemporary art, design and fashion. Being in the World capital of the gastronomy makes perfect sense for a foodie and professional pizza maker.

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