I was sitting back just browsing the internet when I came across a list of weird sex laws in the US on The Chive today. One of those in the list, specifically number 6 where it said that it was legal to have sex with an animal provided it was for entertainment, raised my suspicions instantly. Why would any state legislature allow bestiality for the sole purpose for entertainment? I do understand, and have also written about the states that still haven’t outlawed bestiality, but failure to ban something is different to allowing it under certain circumstances. So what did I discover? I must have come across something to be here writing this out. Well let me just say that this particular law is baloney.
Just as with many misinterpreted laws, the average Joe usually takes a word or phrase from the text of the law and misunderstands it in its context. It is either that, or there is a smidgen of truth to it, only that the someone has decided to elaborate on the actual law, taking it to a whole new meaning. For the purpose of this exercise one word was taken out of context, and in doing so, the entire phrase surrounding it has also been misrepresented. So what was it?
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A person commits the crime of bestiality if the actor engages in any sexual activity with an animal with the intent of sexual gratification of the actor.
OK, so the law makes clear reference to an actor, and it also mentions that for it to be a crime it must be for sexual gratification of the actor. This one line certainly does lead people to assume that it is permissible for an actor to engage in bestiality for entertainment purposes. But that is not the case, and I will explain why.
For most of us an actor is a person who appears on television, movies and plays. They are there for entertainment purposes. But when it comes to the law, an actor has several different definitions, one of them being the accused. So by changing actor for accused the entire line is changed.
A person commits the crime of bestiality if the accused engages in any sexual activity with an animal with the intent of sexual gratification of the accused.
Just changing that one word into something that we are all familiar with in legal talk makes it a lot easier to understand. I suppose there is still some chance that the accused could get off a charge of bestiality by saying that it wasn’t for sexual gratification, but simply being aroused while caught in the act should be enough to be able to complete a successful prosecution.
It’s worth stating that there are inherent dangers not only in sex with animals, but also in misinterpreting laws, such as this one where it was apparently legal to have sex with an animal for entertainment in Utah. The clear danger is that if you engage in an illegal act with the belief that you are engaging in lawful activity, you face a sever criminal penalty.
- Utah Criminal Code, Offenses Against Public Order and Decency, Cruelty to Animals, Section 301.8 Bestiality — Definitions — Penalty.
- Definition of actor