A photograph on the Internet shows Michael Kiok gazing into the eyes of his life partner, Cessy. Cessy is an eight-year-old German shepherd.
Kiok, 52, is a zoophile -- by his estimation one of 100,000 in Germany. The university librarian is sexually attracted to animals.
Hans-Michael Goldmann, an animal protection expert who chairs the federal parliament’s agricultural committee, is neither moved, nor amused. "Anybody who has sex with animals forces the animals into behavior contrary to their nature," says Goldmann.
The committee decided on Wednesday on several new amendments to Germany’s animal protection laws whereby sexual relations with animals would become illegal, punishable with fines up to 25,000 euros. Among other practices to be outlawed: castrating piglets and branding horses without anesthesia.
Parliament will vote on the amendments in December. The opposition has already stated that in its view the amendments are not far-reaching enough.
As things presently stand, under German law only those who "out of brutality inflict pain and suffering on a vertebrate" or cause an animal constant pain, can be prosecuted. Sexual contact with animals as such is not punishable by law. Paragraph 175b, which made "unnatural congress with animals" punishable, was struck from the law in 1969.
Kiok believes the underlying issue here is moral intolerance for a practice also known as bestiality. He knows the zoophile scene well: He’s been living his preferences openly since 1995, and is acquainted with “about 100” other zoophiles. He talks about gatherings that used to take place at a farm in northern Germany, lasting for several days, that for many were “the highpoint of the year.” What exactly went on during the gatherings he’s not saying.
Kiok is the chairman of the ZETA (Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information) association. The zoophilia scene includes people who view animals as life partners and claim that sex with them is not forced but “consensual.” Then there are the "Beastys," for whom zoophilia is about sexual kicks, and finally the "Furries" who dress like animals. All of these different types of zoophiles would meet up at the farm until the owner stopped renting.
No more horses
When Kiok explains all this, it sounds utterly banal. He’s not only attracted to dogs, he says, but to horses as well. "But I stay away from horses; the danger of falling in love is simply too great." When he was younger, he recalls, he "had a relationship with a mare." Anyway, on a librarian's salary, he can’t afford to keep a horse, but a dog poses no such problem.
When veterinarian Nicola Siemers was confronted for the first time with what used to be called sodomy, it was a shock. When a female dog was brought to her practice with wounds to her genital area, at first Siemers suspected nothing untoward: "You just don’t think of something like that." But then she noticed that the dog’s claws had been painted with red fingernail polish.
Siemers initiated a petition "Veterinarians Against Zoophilia and Sodomy," and has written to the Ministry of Agriculture repeatedly about bringing people like Michael Kiok into line.
Many of the things Siemers has documented are difficult to take. She focuses on zoosadism -- the practice of torturing animals for the sadist’s sexual pleasure. Siemers says she sent some images to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The subject fills her “with horror” and anger that nothing can be done to free animals subjected to this treatment, and that even injured and disturbed animals have to be given back to their owners.
Siemers has received "nasty emails" from Kiok, who clearly sees himself as a sensitive, animal-loving person. But Siemers finds it hard to keep quiet when Kiok speaks openly about his predilection and claims the right to live it fully and openly. "Bitches are in heat just twice a year for about eight days,” she says. "Having a relationship of the type Kiok describes is not only contrary to their nature, it’s bad for the dog."
Thomas Schröder, president of the German Association for the Protection of Animals, agrees with Siemers on this and while happy "that sodomy will finally become illegal" believes the law will be impossible to enforce because doing so would involve mandatory veterinary check-ups that would have to be financed by the states.
In any case, the law is very uneven on animal issues, he points out: Factory farming and animal experiments remain legal -- a point Kiok also makes. If German society allows that sort of horrific treatment of animals, forbidding the sort of relationship he has with his dog makes no sense.
Michael Kiok’s public campaign may be a good thing, however. "He’s bringing the issue out into the open," says Schröder. "Now people know, yes, this exists, it’s a real problem."
For their part, activists like Siemers are circulating information to raise awareness about animal brothels and farms that rent out animals for sex. According to Birgit Schröder, the author of a book on zoophilia, more than 500,000 animals die every year in Germany because of “extreme sex practices” by humans. That figure is viewed as excessive by Hans-Michael Goldmann, the chair of the committee that drafted the new amendments.
For his part, Michael Kiok says he intends to continue his fight against the changes to the law.