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Analysis of the D.L.W Case from the Theoretical Perspective of Natural Law Theory

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DLW was acquitted of the bestiality charge on the basis that no penetration occurred. In this report, I will examine the D.L.W case from the theoretical perspective of Natural Law Theory. During my analysis, I will focus on the original D.L.W decision and how it missed factors of Natural Law Theory, such as human rights, animal cruelty, and penetration. By focusing on these aspects, I argue that if Natural Law Theory had been applied in the Supreme Court then the judges would have sided with the charges against D.L.W. Natural Law was written by a Christian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas believes that “Natural law thinking is a quest for absolute values, justice, and truth” (Devlin, 171). In other words, if you were to do something against God’s wishes (against the law), God would punish you.

The objective of Natural Law Theory is to protect humans and their fundamental rights. As Calavita states, “since the law is ideally the tangible expression of morality arrived at through reason, the whole ensemble is God-given, universal, and natural” (Calavita, 13). Rather than dismissing the appeal, the Natural Law Theorists would accept the appeal and would agree that what D.L.W did was immorally wrong in the eyes of God. The core of Natural Law is to claim that since the existence of human beings is natural, they must behave in a way that upholds that rational nature. In the D.L.W case, D.L.W had committed offenses regarding unnatural actions, and since he violated the rights of other human beings, he should have been charged.

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This idea of “natural” pertains to the teleological ideas (I.e. body parts have purposeful functions) that leads to severe consequences when considering the case. Based on the sexuality of humans and of animals, Aquinas adds that what is natural in human nature is that sex is only to engage in heterosexual relationships (Juric, Lecture 5). Sexual intercourse with any animal (bestiality) or performance of sexual activity with the use of an animal is unnatural and immoral for that reason. Especially, if they are considered intentional, they deliberately disrupt the natural order of the creation of the world by God, in which God commanded to be respected. The majority found the term bestiality to be unclear; therefore, they did not want to interpret the term, and they did not want to expand liability because it was not written in the law. Moreover, it was only “natural” to have sex with the means of procreation. Even though facts like bestiality committed by any person or animal was a criminal offense, the judges let D.L.W off his charges along with the charge of bestiality. In the D.L.W case maintaining that in the Code, the term bestiality refers to sexual penetration between a person and an animal (D.L.W, 3).

The main issue identified in the D.L.W case was whether penetration was an essential element of the offense of bestiality. Although, Aquinas in-explicitly says that, in Natural Law Theory sexual penetration is done with means of sex being consensual (Devlin, 171). Penetration was an essential element in determining bestiality, the majority’s decision was very inaccurate in terms of its own account of theories of statutory explanation, but more importantly, on levels of morality. The Supreme Court felt that bestiality as a definition must include penetration. As Abella pointed out, Parliament must have assumed, that penetration was not a requirement (D.L.W, 13). By not assuming these facts the judges felt obligated to let D.L.W free.

By taking into consideration the D.L.W. case from the perspective of the Natural Law Theory, I argued that the original D.L.W. decision missed several key facts that could have changed the outcome, using the main factors such as, human rights violations, animal abuse, and reasons why penetration was considered important. If there was a judge that applied Natural Law in the case, it would have taken a different route instead of acquitting D.L.W. of bestiality. Perhaps, it would have taken into fact that human rights played a role in the case, that an animal had been abused, and that penetration was a necessary factor.

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Analysis of the D.L.W Case from the Theoretical Perspective of Natural Law Theory. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
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