Animal Save Movementa global network of activists dedicated to fighting the use and exploitation of animals for food, is facing a million-dollar lawsuit of 1.2 million dollars, filed by Anthony Bezjak.
As Animal Save Movement explains, at the end of 2019 the organization received a complaint from one of its members, denouncing that she had had a non-consensual sexual encounter with Alex Bezjak, a fellow activist, while both were staying at an Airbnb in London, which had been paid by the organization.
Animal Save Movement took “immediate steps to resolve the problem and protect its organizers, volunteers and the community in general”, actions that included an investigation of the accusations and “prohibiting” Bezjak from taking part in the organization’s events, as well how to publicly communicate these decisions.
On February 1, Bezjak filed a lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court against the Animal Save Movement, which he accuses of defamation, a lawsuit, they say from the organization, that shows the existing obstacles when seeking “social justice”. ” and to make its spaces “safer” for all its members.
The organization explains that, in a video posted on Facebook on April 20, 2020, Bezjak explained in his own words that he presumed consent based on past encounters with his partner. However, under Canadian and British law, consent cannot be presumed based on a prior sexual encounter, but must be affirmatively affirmed for consent to exist.
Specifically, the Animal Save Movement defense says that, under Canadian law, “prior sexual activity does not support an inference or presumption of consent, nor can consent be implied in a relationship. Indeed, in the context of sexual assault, evidence of prior sexual activity is presumptively inadmissible for consent. Rather, consent must be present at the time of the sexual activity in question. Only yes means yes. What is required is nothing less than a positive affirmation.”
Animal Save Movement insists that its goal is for all activists to “feel safe and supported”, and understands that BEzjak’s behavior, by his own admission, “may undermine our goal of making sure activists feel safe. Any behavior that undermines that goal worries us.”
He also recalls that Bezjak “had been the subject of previous complaints of misconduct in 2018 and was no longer welcome at our events. We are not the only organization that has come to this same conclusion,” as Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) said it was not welcome at its activities, including the Animal Liberation Conference held in 2018.
Anita Krajnc, Executive Director of the Animal Save Movement, said they are “disappointed that Mr Bezjak has chosen to launch a libel suit, pitting animal activists against each other. We will vigorously defend ourselves. We have an obligation to protect the safety of animal rights activists in our community.”
“Animal Save Movement seeks to advance the animal protection movement by educating participants about consent. We are making our movement more effective by fostering a culture of mutual respect among people, where sexually inappropriate behavior is not tolerated, which is essential to protecting the legal rights of movement participants and making our social justice movement be as effective as possible. In the process of helping animals, we have to make sure we respect each other.”
On This link can consult the full complaintand in This is the response letter from Animal Save Movement. In addition, Animal Save Movement keeps its travel and accommodation policy of activists, and their policies against discrimination and harassmentwhich must be read and accepted by its members, as well as the memorandum of understanding and a code of conduct, the social Media Policy, and the diversity and inclusion guide .