In a press release, dated March 28, 2001, Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law, and President of the Great Ape Project International (GAP) "called for Singer's resignation in the wake of Singer's essay on bestiality, available in the March/April edition of Nerve Magazine, titled "Heavy Petting" http://www.nerve.com/Opinions/Singer/heavyPetting/main.asp?.
In the essay, Singer maintains that "sex with animals does not always involve cruelty" and that humans and nonhumans can have "mutually satisfying" sexual relationships. Singer describes an encounter between a human woman and a male orangutan living at Camp Leakey in Borneo. According to Singer, the orangutan saw the human woman "as an object of sexual interest." This is no cause for shock or horror, writes Singer, because "we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes." Thus, Singer concludes, the idea of sex between humans and non-humans "ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings."
Francione's letter to Singer requesting his resignation dated the same day of his press release March 28, said "that in light of Singer's position in GAP, his support for bestiality could be used to justify the sexual abuse of great apes and other non-human animals. Francione stressed "It is a shame that Singer's desire to be in the public spotlight is so intense that he would promote sex with animals--a position that deserves nothing less than outright condemnation." Last year, Singer received international attention when he argued that it was morally acceptable in certain circumstances to kill haemophiliac and other disabled infants.
Francione is the first legal theorist to call for legal rights for great apes and other animals and one of the original signers of the Declaration on the Rights of Great Apes contained in the book "The Great Ape Project," published in 1993 and edited by Paola Cavalieri and Singer.
Tony Smith, who works at a Canadian sanctuary which provides shelter and psychological enrichment for 15 non-human great apes, also expressed concerns about Singer's position on bestiality. "Peter Singer misses the significance of the incident's occurrence in a rehabilitation camp for apes trying to cope with what we have imposed on them. As a person who lives daily with the psychological problems of non-human victims of human interference and manipulation, I can tell you that such individuals are by no means sexually well-adjusted. Many of their behaviors are heartbreaking symptoms of human domination. Such acts should not be taken as moral guidance or justification." Lee Hall, of the international legal group Great Ape Standing & Personhood, said, "Whether the idea of sex between humans and non-humans offends our status is beside the point. The point is that non- human animals cannot consent to sexual contact with us. Singer's request that we drop our sense of disgust at the creation of the quintessential sex object is shocking and disappointing."
PRESS RELEASE: MARCH 28, 2001 Enquiries: GREAT APE STANDING & PERSONHOOD
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Updated last, 04/06/2010