”We know that there is a great risk of the animals being used this way are harmed by it,” said Eva Eriksson, County Governor of Värmland, who has been working on the new animal welfare law since 2009, at a press conference.
According to Eriksson, the topic has been up for discussion over a longer period of time and she feels that "major societal changes" warrant a clear prohibition against sex with animals.
”Today it is very easy, on the internet and other places, to encounter animals for sexual intercourse and there are also many more reports of this happening,” said Eriksson.
She also clarified that this should not be confused with cruelty to animals, where people mutilate the sexual organs of livestock and to counter which there is already legislation in place.
The new law, Eriksson underlined, would solely encompass the sexual abuse of animals for the perpetrator's own pleasure.
”This is about people who enter stables and perform sexual actions on horses or cows, which is not natural behaviour for the animal and isn't ethically justifiable,” Eriksson said.
However, Eriksson added that the sexual stimulation of animals in the context of breeding or as part of veterinary medicine procedures is exempt from the law.
A new animal welfare law has long been on the cards in Sweden, with the old legislation dating back to 1988.
The ambition with the new proposal is to safeguard society's respect for animals and that the animal welfare law should counteract animal welfare problems, Eriksson said in her presentation.
Eriksson, County Governor since 2004, has been reviewing the existing laws for the past two years, on the behest of the government.
Other proposed changes in legislation will mean stricter rules on breeding and harsher punishment against those that break the law.
Eriksson also argued for the registration of all cats, stricter rules on which exotic animals can be kept as pets, and the banning of large animals like sea lions and elephants in circus performances.