Sexual intercourse with animals, known as bestiality, will become a crime punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine ranging between €2,000 and €6,000, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said in Parliament.

Making bestiality illegal has been proposed over the years by animal rights activists including Opposition MP Mario Galea and Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina.

At the moment it is not illegal to have sex with an animal unless harm is caused to the animal, in which case that would fall under animal cruelty. Zammit Lewis said that legal amendments would address this by including a provision stating that nobody can subject an animal to any activity that isn’t in its nature, which includes sexual acts.

Anyone found guilty of bestiality will be liable to a maximum prison sentence of three years and a fine of between €2,000 and €6,000, he said. It is not clear whether the amendment would be made to the Criminal Code or the Animal Welfare Act. In either case, the act of bestiality would be considered a crime. 

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