Bestiality is legal in Ohio; lawmaker plans to outlaw it

State Sen. Jim Hughes plans to put language in state budget bill to outlaw sex with animals.

A state senator wants to make it illegal for humans to have sex with animals in Ohio, proposing that a law be added to the state budget this month outlawing bestiality.

“I think this is something that is sickening and perverse and we don’t want Ohio to be the place you can come and have sex with an animal,” said state Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington.

He said as a former Franklin County assistant prosecutor he had cases where the suspect who had sex with children had also had sex with animals.

“There is an overlap between the two of them,” Hughes said.

Hughes said he was “shocked” when the legislature did not approve his 2011 effort to outlaw bestiality. He’s now proposed an amendment to the senate’s budget proposal, set to be unveiled on Monday, but said if his amendment doesn’t make it into the budget he will propose it as a stand-alone bill. His proposal would make violating the law a misdemeanor.

Hughes’ bill has gained the support of a variety of animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, which is working to get bestiality banned in the 11 states and the District of Columbia which do not have laws prohibiting human sex with animals.

“This is a form of animal abuse. There are animals that get severely injured in these horrific acts,” said John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy at the Humane Society of the United States. “And legislators should move very quickly, both for moral reasons and animal cruelty reasons to outlaw bestiality.”

In urban areas the sexually abused animals are typically dogs, while in more rural locations horses, sheep and donkeys are also abused, Goodwin said.

“There are groups of people that traffic in animals and cross state lines to engage in the sexual abuse of animal,” Goodwin said.

He hopes that will be addressed in a proposed federal law that would make it illegal to cross state lines to engage in any form of animal cruelty that causes serious bodily harm.

Goodwin said laws banning bestiality were inadvertently eliminated in some states when they repealed sodomy laws. Currently 39 states ban sex with animals.

Some states have passed anti-bestiality laws in response to specific incidents. In 2005 a Washington man died after having sex with a horse, said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. The next year bestiality was outlawed by the Washington legislature.

Kumpf said there is also the possibility of cross-species disease, such as rabies and infections, when humans have sex with animals. And while the animal may not always be injured, Kumpf believes bestiality should be illegal because “animals cannot consent.”

Kumpf teaches a class to animal control officers on the subject. He said acts of bestiality can lead to criminal charges under different sections of law if the animal is hurt or if an adult makes a minor commit an act of bestiality.

He said people who oppose anti-bestiality laws would say humans having sex with animals is “natural” and argue that it hurts no one. But Kumpf said, “Animals should not be subject to abuse, period. And animal sexual abuse is abuse.”

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