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Did Florida's Anti-Bestiality Law Outlaw Sex Entirely?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 17, 2011 6:49 AM

In Florida, bestiality is now outlawed. But, did they accidentally outlaw sex entirely?

The new Florida statute reads that a person may not "knowingly engage in any sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal."

Let's consider: what are humans? Are we not a type of animal? Humans definitely aren't fungi, or bacteria, or plants. Or algae.

No, we are mammals. Living, breathing mammals. And animals.

But, of course, definitions are the crux of every law. The Florida legislature has a definition for the "animals" they speak of in the statute, and according to Sec. 828.02 of the Florida code, "...in every law of the state relating to or in any way affecting animals, the word 'animal' shall be held to include every living dumb creature."

Some readers out there might be thinking that their husband or wife qualifies as a "dumb creature." Fear not, however, you won't be committing bestiality because statutory interpretation is in your favor.

Most words in the English language have some level of ambiguity. When the law says that a "great injury" must have occurred for penalties to be in place, lawyers might spend the entire case arguing what "great" means, or what an "injury" is.

So, whenever legislatures or congress passes a law, definitions are vital. And part of figuring out what words actually mean goes back to what the legislature wanted the word to mean.

Clearly, the Florida legislature did not want to outlaw sex between humans. Sure, some humans may be "dumb creatures," but it seems more likely that the legislature wanted to draw the line between creatures of intelligence (like humans) versus all other creatures (the dumb creatures).

There you have it. It seems more than certain that in Florida, bestiality is a no-go. Sex between consenting humans adults? Probably not bestiality.

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