Bestiality is having a weird renaissance in Europe. Perhaps ironically, it kicked off when activists succeeded in banning the practice in places like Germany and Norway. In the background, something else emerged simultaneously: an animal-sex-tourism industry, which has been blossoming in Denmark.
Denmark is far from the only place you can fuck a dolphin, horse, pig, or dog. In fact, more than a dozen US states and territories legally permit some form of man-bites-dog action, including Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington, DC.
But last year, Germany captured international media attention by actually legislating to criminalize sex with an animal—regardless of whether the creature is hurt in the process. Dr. Edmund Haferbeck, head of the Scientific and Legal Department at the animal rights group PETA’s Germany chapter, saw this as a mixed triumph—he claims other animal welfare laws were weakened despite his personal victory in barring sex with animals. Germany’s upper house of Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed the bill in February 2013 before it was signed into law by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
So attempts to criminalize bestiality as an act, regardless of evidence of physical abuse to the animal, were spearheaded by animal-rights activists. Makes sense, right? But the ripple effects of the law were numerous, and one was the vocal protests of a fringe zoophile group known as ZETA (yes, that's a play on PETA). Their members admit they have sex with animals, and many also have human partners who are aware of their proclivities. It turns out that Dave Chappelle was off base in his famous stand-up special For What It’s Worth when he said, “Y’all can keep fucking these people, more monkey pussy for me!” People actually fuck animals and people, too. ZETA, in fact, even tried to get incorporated as a registered entity in Germany but got shot down by the powers that be.
Bestiality has few public defenders, but Oliver Burdinski is one of them. He is the shining voice of ZETA, with his gentle tone and fading sex life with his only remaining dog, Joey, a blue-eyed Husky. Joey is not that motivated to anally penetrate Burdinski anymore, but the man is only the bottom in the relationship, and says, “I am his bitch.” Burdinski attributes the change in their sex life to the dog's age. Either way, it's a far cry from his heady early days as a zoophile, when he had three dog-partners all living with him. Burdinski says the group of dogs sometimes fought each other over the prize of sex with their human master.
ZETA's problem with the law is its validity based on the German constitution, or Basic Law. The group claims that if an animal is not harmed, then this legislation is in fact a "moral law." This is a major issue in Germany, where human rights were strongly safeguarded after World War II because of the atrocities Adolf Hitler managed to commit using moral pejoratives. ZETA asserts that because of this, the ban is not constitutional. But Germany's government refuses to formally recognize ZETA.
Meanwhile, with Norway, Germany, and other European nations recently changing their bestiality laws, Denmark has been thrust into an animal-sex limelight that some residents of the country would just as soon be rid of. Reports of animal-sex tours in Jutland began to emerge for the first time in 2007.
Journalists like Margit Shabanzadeh, currently a reporter for TV2 News in Copenhagen, were on the cutting edge of exposing this burgeoning problem. She found a woman that trained dogs to have sex with other women, and says that despite claims the dog was healthy, it did not appear particularly happy upon her arrival. "The dog was injured and seemed to be limping, and to have an aversion to humans in general," Shabanzadeh said.
Increased reporting of these incidents, which included barns being raided at night by animal rapists, sparked a public outcry. It drove the debate into the Danish political sphere, with activists demanding the government live up to the German standard and pressuring the former minister of agriculture to change the law. But he took no interest after a report by Peter Sandøe, the then chairman of Denmark's ethics advisory body, indicated that if no harm came to the animal, no crime had been committed. Sandøe, currently a professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen, conducted a study wherein he concluded that some animals could actually enjoy sex with humans.
This appeared to be the death knell for activists like Karoline Lundstrøm, who has been trying to penetrate the underground networks of practicing zoophiles for years. She peruses websites they use to organize meet-ups, such as Beast Forum, and has become a sort of country farmer turned vigilante cyber warrior, targeting zoophiles and beasts. The distinction is an important one to people who fuck animals: Zoophiles love their animals and care for them, whereas beasts just fuck and run.
Beasts tend to inspire the lurid imagery of zoophilia, like mutilated horses with condoms strewn at their taped-together legs, as described by veterinarian Dr. Lene Kattrup. Kattrup offers a wellspring of horror stories about atrocities committed against animals in Denmark, and is despondent about the way the country is failing to protect animals.
Activists anticipated a new day for animal protection following the arrival of Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s new minister of agriculture. Longtime advocates like Peter Mollerup see him as a friend of the animal rights movement and their best chance to finally change the law. However, Jorgensen doesn't seem all that bothered by bestiality. He's made no statements regarding the practice, and hasn't publicly acknowledged it at all since he took office.
Danish fringe groups are now latching on to the issue in hopes of gaining seats in parliament. The most prominent example is Christian H. Hansen of the FOKUS party, who previously served in the Danish People's Party for a dozen years.
Hansen suspects that Sandøe opposes the law because he's into fucking animals himself. FOKUS brands itself as “the greenest party” in Denmark, and is outspoken on environmental issues as well. It was created largely in reaction to the DPP's overwhelming focus on immigration law—and very little else—according to its founder.
The battle over the ethics of animal-human sexual relationships is far from over. Mythology surrounding bestiality dates back centuries and includes Greek gods, such as Zeus. Hysterical discussions and inability to face this issue head-on are the true enemy in this situation. If you're afraid to acknowledge a problem, then it's impossible to fix it.