Measures to strengthen legal protections for children, vulnerable individuals, and animals pass Parliament and are now in place

News release

June 21, 2019 - Ottawa, ON - Department of Justice Canada

Today Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), received Royal Assent and came into force. The legislation amends the Criminal Code to strengthen and modernize the laws around bestiality and animal fighting.

Research has established a direct link between violence toward animals and violence toward people. This legislation represents a common-ground approach to ensuring the protection of children, vulnerable people and animals from cruelty and abuse, while ensuring the law does not interfere with Indigenous harvesting rights and other legitimate farming, hunting, and trapping practices.

The legislation adds a definition of bestiality that ensures all contact with an animal for a sexual purpose is prohibited. It also authorizes courts to issue prohibition or restitution orders when a person is convicted of a bestiality offence and adds the offence of committing bestiality to the list of offences where a convicted person must comply with the requirements of the National Sex Offender Registry.

The legislation also amends the animal fighting offences to capture a broader range of conduct involved in animal fighting, such as training, transporting and breeding of animals. It ensures that it is a crime to maintain an arena for the fighting of any type of animal, and not just for cockfighting, and removes the requirement that birds used in cockfighting be destroyed.


“Today we have closed a gap in our laws identified by the Supreme Court of Canada and by stakeholders across the country. Supported by Parliamentarians from all parties, these changes enhance public safety and offer greater protections to children and other vulnerable persons. They also better protect animals from violence and cruelty, and help to ensure that offenders are held accountable.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick facts

  • In June 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada held in R v DLW that, absent a definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code, the existing bestiality offences only prohibit sex acts with animals in cases where there is penetration because of its historical common law meaning.

  • By ensuring that all forms of bestiality are prohibited, penetrative and otherwise, the criminal justice system is better able to protect victims, prosecute criminals, track the criminal history of these offenders, and provide important information to prosecutors and the courts.

  • Research has found strong correlations between animal cruelty offences and other violent crimes, such as child sexual assault and sexual assault more generally.

  • Animal fighting has often been linked to organized crime, including illegal gambling and the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons.

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For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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