A History of Zeta Verein 

The Zeta Verein: a German Success Story of a Zoophile Organization 
Hidden in closed off forums, there are many zoos who are fighting against the waves of anti-bestiality laws striking the Western World. Within the power of the law, discrimination against zoophiles has become institutionalized, and now those "perpetrators" who do nothing but love their animals can have their animals seized, neutered, or killed, and the humans may end up in jail or enlisted as a sex offender. 
Most zoos lose hope when facing what they feel is an unavoidable prophecy. However, the recent history of German zoosexuals and the creation of the Zeta Verein (Zoophiles Engagement for Tolerance and Enlightment) show that it doesn't have to be that way. This association embodies the fight against discrimination and prejudice of people with zoophilic interests, not just online but in real every day life. Nowadays, their work largely consists of providing assistance to students and researchers for scientific papers, as well as representing zoo people by participating in interviews for journals, radios or in the making of movies. However, this has not always been the case. 
Everything began in the year 2009. The Zoophile community was enjoying its last years without anti-bestiality laws in many countries, and online forums were still flourishing. In Germany, the Tierschutzgesetz (Animal Welfare Act) was about to be subjected to a vast reform. For some zoos, one thing was clear: Zoophilia was about to be part of the national debate and they needed to prepare for it. 
Under the impulse of Michael Kiok, it was decided that a legal association needed to be established. From the beginning, the project had every reason to fail. To create such an entity in Germany, you need 7 founding members, agreeing to sign the statutes and face the inherent risk of outing themselves. However, they managed to find all the support that they needed within the local zoo community. With that done, the founders decided to register the entity. Usually, this step is only a matter of procedure. However, things turned out very differently for the Zeta Verein. As an association representing a sexual minority that is not to everyone’s taste, they had to argue before the courts for over three years just for the right to exist. At first, it was said that the goals of the association were illicit, as the judges were convinced that there was no other way to talk about zoophilia other than to show pornographic materials to people. Once the Verein successfully argued against those accusations, the “contrariety to public decency” was then used to fight against the hopes of the zoos trying to register their association.¹ 
2011 – 2013 a zoophilia ban in Germany? 
Registered or not, the founders had no time to lose. On the 10th of October, the organization PETA held a press conference about the creation of the new formed zoo association, and depicted bestiality acts as being already illegal (which was false). However, like a lot of anti zoophile efforts, this provided public attention to the newly created Verein, who were already hard at work. They could already list some achievements they could be proud of. They had produced a film, "Man loves dog, which was about to be released. Its facebook group was also growing. However, events were about to accelerate even further
First, activists against Zeta Verein started creating vitriol about the supposed existence of animal brothels in Germany. They claimed that a group active under the name Zoos4Zoos (or ZooGruppe Deutschland) was providing animals for sexual use in exchange for payment. In reality however, things were very different. A group under that name did exist, but back in the summer of 2008. And even then, they still weren't actually real. They promised to rent animals to those seeking, but then asked for a payment to “find the closest farm” before simply disappearing.² As far as anyone is aware, there were no animal brothels active in Germany. Even so, Zeta Verein’s opinion on that was and is still very clear: animal brothels are not acceptable by any means and will be reported to the authorities if any proof of their existence is found. 
Nevertheless, the clarification of Zeta Verein’s position with regards to animal brothels did not make its mere existence more acceptable in the view of a more radical range of animal welfare activists. Thus, even by the start of 2012, board members of the Zeta were already receiving huge amounts of hate mail and death threats³. The fight against zoophilia would also gain public attention through Dr. Martin, a prominent German figure at the time, who was about to propose of prohibition of zoosexual acts, animal husbandry practices excepted. 
In the meantime, the zoo association began to try and clean up the community from the inside. They managed to track the ip address of someone that had filmed himself while committing cruel acts of most despicable nature and transmitted it to the authorities. The Verein would then regularly make posts about unsolved cases of sadism, offering anonymity to anyone that could share useful information.
On the 24th of March 2012, a demonstration was organized in the city of Cologne. With 350 participants announced, a hundred people showed up to the event. Some zoos decided to participate in order to initiate discussions. While it was a peaceful protest, the police were required to intervene more than once to protect the zoos from the aggressivity that some of their opponents were showing. They later declared that they underestimated the importance of the group effect. Accusations of mistreatment were made against zoo participants that came with their animals, and some activists were even trying to get footage of their genital parts, convinced they would find wounds and evidence of violence there. They sent that footage to the authorities, but after examination by a veterinarian it was proven that the animals were totally healthy. 
In the same period, the German Chancellor organized the Zukunft Dialog in order to give the population a chance to share their views on the future of the Nation. Citizens had the possibility to make propositions. One such proposition came from Mrs. Ulla Saure, who asked for prohibitions of sexual acts upon animals. Propositions were voted on by the public in order to assess public interest. Some people in support of the idea even exploited the system to vote multiple times, with some claiming 60 to 70 votes in a single day. This manipulation of the voting system was noticed by the press and some zoos informed the authorities about it.⁵ In the end, the Chancellor would state that the Animal Welfare Act gave enough protection to animals, and struck down the proposal. This still, however, was not the end.
This failure wasn’t to everyone’s taste and it was decided that a protest would take place in front of Michael Kiok’s home. Participants trespassed onto his property, and informed his neighbors about his sexual orientation. The mob had one goal in mind: to damage his reputation as much as possible. The protests grew so aggressive that the local law enforcement later apologized to Mr Kiok for not stepping in to stop them
In the summer 2012, the Bundesverband Praktizierender Tierärtze (Federal association of practicing veterinarians) came out in support of a Zoophilia Ban. They ran a study they called "Operation Fair Play," which consisted of sending veterinarians forms with questions about their experience with signs of zoosexuals acts on animals. The Zeta Verein regretted not having been consulted for this project and raised concerns about potential biases, as healthy animals wouldn't be assumed as a zoosexual's partner
On the 1st of September, a second demonstration was announced in the city of Köln. Many zoophiles decided not to take part, as they feared for their safety. People hiding their faces took part in the protest and the rumours of the existence of animal brothels were once again brought up to public attention even though a journalist had investigated this issue and could not find any proof of their existence.⁶
By the end of the year, the possibility that a Zoophilia Ban would see the day light was becoming more and more plausible despite the fact that experts alerted the legislator on the incompatibility of such a prohibition with the constitutional order of Germany and its liberal tradition⁷. ZETA Verein organized a protest with “Equality for All” on the 1st of February that ended with the screening of a new movie. They even put out a call for anyone unsure of their cause to come and ask questions live to them. Unfortunately, no opponent of zoophilia accepted their invitation to present their views. 
All those efforts didn’t prevent the Zoophilia Ban from being adopted, and its entry into law was planned for the 13th of July. The success of the anti-zoo legislature wouldn’t satisfy all of the opposition however, as some even decided to write to the workplace of Michael Kiok, trying to alert them to his sexual preferences. Fortunately, this had no professional consequences for Mr Kiok, as his workplace was already aware and in support. As if this wasn’t enough, others decided to organize a second demonstration in front of Michael Kiok’s house on the 28th of July. Even after all of this however, Zeta Verein was not ready to give up yet. They still had one last card in their hands: der Bundesverfassungsgericht (German Supreme Court). 
2012 – 2015 nullum crimen sine lege, so let’s change the law! 
In Germany, the law states that individuals have the right to sexual self-determination. The argument for Zeta Verein was that a law against zoosexuality was unconstitutional because it infringed on their right. However, in order to make a claim that a law is unconstitutional, one needs to pay specialized lawyers. Specialized lawyers are very expensive, and so being able to stack up money in a bank account in the name of the association can be very practical. To open a bank account in the name of Zeta Verein, they didn't need to have been registered by a Court, they just needed the approval of a bank. However, no bank is compelled by the law to accept any clients. No bank welcomed ZETA Verein. It is not clear whether those refusals came from rejection of zoophiles or from a fear that the bank would gain negative public favor for associating with the organization.
Those issues would not deter the Zeta Verein from fulfilling its goals however, and on the 1st of February 2014, they hosted Zoophile Rights Day. It was one of the first major Zoophile events organized after the new law passed and took the form of a protest in Berlin, followed by the projection of a movie and a debate, to which no zoo-opponents agreed to take part. The same day another demonstration was organized by zoo opponents combining animal rights activists and far-right groups. Thanks to the presence of the police, no one was injured during the demonstration. On the Zoophile’s side, there were considerably more people coming from out of country to attend the protest, as well as a strong mix of both male and female supporters.
In the years 2014 and 2015, the Zeta Verein hosted its annual Zoophiles Rights Day, and each year got more and more attention from the media, both German and abroad. The event became so popular that it was sometimes hard for the association to find enough English fluent members to be able to translate for out of country supporters. Even the local media had cooled their tone against the zoos. The Verein also supported activism from zoos living in foreign countries, trying to counteract propaganda made against zoosexuality abroad, mainly in Finland and Denmark. 
In Germany, the Court decision was published on the 18th of February 2016, and it was stated that the ban on bestiality was upheld, ruling that the law did not violate the right to sexual self-determination. Media from all around the world covered the story, talking about the failed attempt from zoophiles to challenge a law before the courts⁸. However, things weren't as bad as they seemed. By carefully reading the argumentation of the Court, it is clearly stated that the rule prohibiting “the use of an animal to commit sexual acts for oneself or training an animal or providing an animal for the sexual acts of a third party, and therefore constraint him to behaviour contrary to its species” only render illicit acts that include the use of physical constraint or mental coercion that is akin to the use of physical strength⁹. In the end, this law protects animals from sexual abuse without banning all sexual acts. 
To conclude, the creation of the Zeta Verein was first marked by the rejection of the courts to recognize it as a legal entity. However, the controversy and public attention brought by those rulings benefited the zoo association in the end. For more than five years, a very active minority of anti-zoos conducted a harassment campaign aimed at destroying the lives of the zoo activists, hoping that they would abandon their cause. However, the strength of those zoo activists never waivered. With time, the work of the Zeta Verein started to pay off as the subject was slowly but surely gaining media attention, with journalist renouncing with common misconceptions. In the end, thanks to the coordination of some zoos, members of the community decided to challenge the bestiality-ban before the law with great success. Nowadays, Zeta Verein’s founder feels confident about the situation in Germany, claiming that the anti-zoo movement remains weakened. What comes next for the Zeta Verein? Who knows. But we can be sure they'll always keep fighting for the rights of their fellow zoos. 
Charles Menni
¹ Chronology of the events and courts decisions are available here: KIOK Michael, Chronik der Nicht-Eintragung, Blog des ZETA Verein, 1er janvier 2013. [https://blog.zeta-verein.de/2013/01/chronik-der-nicht-eintragung/]. 
² TIGERLILY, Zoos4Zoos – das Märchen der deutschen TiersexBauernhöfe, ZETA Verein Blog, 15 janvier 2012. [https://blog.zeta-verein.de/2012/01/zoos4zoos-das-marchen-der-deutschen-tiersex-bauernhofe/].
³ For a few exemples see: KIOK Michael, Fan Post & Fan Post #2, Zeta Verein Blog, 21 janvier & 11 février 2012. [https://blog.zeta-verein.de/2012/01/fanpost/] ; [https://blog.zeta-verein.de/2012/02/fanpost-2/]
ATHABA, Demokratie à la Tierrechtler, ZETA Verein Blog, 8 avril 2012. [https://blog.zeta-verein.de/2012/04/demokratie-a- la-tierrechtler/]. 
⁵ BEUTH Patrick, Bürgerbeteiligung im Netz mit fragwürdigen Ergebnissen, Zeit Online, 13 avril 2012. [https://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2012-04/dialog-fuer-deutschland-ergebnis-manipulation/komplettansicht#print]. 
⁶ MEYER Katharina, Gibt es Tierbordelle in Deutschland ?, Badische Zeitung, 28 Septembre 2012. [https://www.badische-zeitung.de/nachrichten/deutschland/gibt-es-tierbordelle-in-deutschland--64112664.html?mode=in]
⁷ THEILE Charlotte, Ehemaliger Verfassungsrichter Hassemer zum Zoophilie-Verbot : « Nicht alles Widerliche 
verdient staatliche Strafe », Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13 décembre 2012. https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/ehemaliger- verfassungsrichter-hassemer-zum-zoophilie-verbot-nicht-alles-widerliche-verdient-staatliche-strafe-1.1548925]. 
⁸ Se also: MORTIMER Caroline, German court upholds ban on bestiality, ruling it does not violate the right to « sexual self-determination », The Independent, 19 février 2016. 
⁹ BVerfG, Bleschluss der 3. Kammer des Ersten Senats vom 08. Dezember 2015 – 1 BvR 1864/14, Rn 1-15, 

Charles Menni, June 2023 

Twitter: @CharlesMenni 

Special thanks to Michael Kiok for helping to get the details right.

You can find all my articles in French on Zeta Verein’s blog: https://blog.zeta-verein.de/fr/  

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