|Motto||For a kinder future to all species|
|Founded||1995(as Keen Establishment for Redefining Orientation)|
|Founder||John W. Hoffman|
|Type||Nonprofit advocacy organization|
|Joshua Sakars, President|
|Affiliations||KERO Institute, KERO PAC|
The organization has been controversial since its inception and has been involved in a history of legal challenges and battles in relation to its activities, leadership, and clients. It has attracted criticism and opposition for promoting animal abuse, equating zoophilia with LGBT rights, and for affiliating with pro-pedophilia groups. Various members and organizations within the furry fandom have also distanced themselves or disavowed KERO for linking the fandom with the zoophile community. It has been banned in the United Commonwealth and the organization has voluntarily closed down over half of its chapters in Sierra due to intensive investigation and crackdowns by the RBI during the early 2000s against local chapters accused of animal abuse and child abuse rings. There have been unsuccessful attempts in legislation and litigation to shut down KERO but the organization has defended its freedom of association and freedom of speech to continue its operations and advocacy. It has become known as Sierra's "most hated and vilified organization" according to Newstar's poll in 2019 where over 85% of respondents answered that they "strongly or moderately disliked" KERO (compared to the next organization, the white supremacist IKS, which was only 80% "disliked").
History[edit | edit source]
Founded in 1995 by John W. Hoffman, an animal rights advocate and libertarian, Hoffman "came out" as a gay zoophile and was subsequently kicked from the Sierran Association of Animal Rights and Cruelty Prevention (SAARCP) following his open support for engaging in bestiality. He wrote an essay titled "Shifting Societal Norms on Human–Animal Relations", which was published on the independent journal The Alternative. The essay laid out Hoffman's conceptualization of the zoophile rights movement and argued that zoophilia was the next step of "normalization and acceptance" following LGBT rights. He reposted his essay on a furry fandom forum where he received mixed reactions from the community. The members who were receptive to Hoffman's essay suggested that an advocacy organization supporting zoophiles should exist. Hoffman registered an organization in his home province Santa Clara as the "Keen Establishment for Redefining Orientation", based on his belief that zoophilia constituted a valid form of sexual orientation and required broader public support to become actualized in the mainstream society. It initially focused on combating anti-bestiality laws and raising awareness of zoophilia. It aimed to pressure on media organizations from reporting negative content on zoophiles and bestiality-related stories, insisting that "bestiality" was a derogatory term. By 2000, KERO claimed it had a membership of upwards to 12,000 across Sierra, with new chapters emerging in Brazoria, Northeast Union, Rainier, Superior, Tournesol, and the United Commonwealth.
For several years, KERO had an established presence at various furcons, most notably, the one held in Porciúncula, but was subsequently banned from virtually all conventions in 2005 when Hoffman was arrested on three counts of bestiality and two counts of statutory rape against a minor. As of 2022, all major furry conventions have banned the presence of KERO at their venues. After Hoffman was convicted, he was removed as president of KERO, and was replaced with Joshua Sakars, who served previously as the organization's chief spokesman.
The organization has a large online presence and has launched an aggressive advertising campaign on television, websites, and billboard signs to promote its work and advocacy. In 2014, it endorsed its first political candidate in an election, Sebastian Guzman, a registered Democratic-Republican running for the seat of Kings' 3rd parliamentary district. Although Guzman's bid failed, having secured only 182 votes or less than 2% of the public turnout, KERO's endorsement garnered widespread media coverage. KERO began mobilizing its organization towards becoming more professional and assertive with its goal with the launch of KEROcon and the KERO Institute. KEROcon became the sole "zoosexual-friendly" furcon in Anglo-America, while the KERO Institute was founded as a think tank dedicated to researching zoophilia, zoophiles, and zoophilia-related issues. It also became known simply as "KERO" to represent this shift in strategy, marketing, and approach.
In 2017, Trevor Winters, a man accused of murdering his neighbor, Stanley Hitchens for having sex with Winters' pet dog, Chesters, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than second-degree murder. He caught Hitchens in the act of penetrative sex with Chesters and beat his neighbor so severely that Hitchens succumbed to death before authorities Winters had called arrived. The defense argued that it was a crime of passion and that Winters deserved to be charged with voluntary manslaughter rather than second-degree murder, and was sentenced to only three years in a minimum-security prison. During the trial, KERO filed an amicus brief which condemned Winters and his sentence, arguing that the killing was unjustified because Hitchens presented no life-threatening risk to Winters or his pet dog. Although KERO agreed that Hitchens had no right to have sex with Winters' "property", Chesters, they argued Winters had no right to kill Hitchens. They argued that the crime of passion defense has already been rejected for cases of infidelity and domestic difficulties, and decried the lesser sentence based on the defense as "antiquated, unjust, and biased against zoosexuals". Following the verdict, KERO organized small-scale protests and demonstrations throughout Sierra and launched an online ad campaign to bring "justice for the mistreated zoophile community". The case brought widespread media attention and coverage by mainstream outlets, including RBS and Tokki, which placed KERO under intensive scrutiny and review over its increased publicity and involvement in political and legal issues.
In 2019, KERO successfully petitioned to the San Francisco Provincial Assembly to amend anti-zoophile speech as a form of hate speech prohibited in the province under the Protected Minorities and Tolerance Act of 2006. The phrase in question of the original petition was "yiff in hell", which is a popular slogan utilized by anti-KERO critics and opponents of the larger furry community. The legislation represented one of the first government actions enacted in favor of KERO's goals and aims, which was hailed as a "groundbreaking victory" by KERO. The constitutionality of the amendment is currently being legally challenged in the San Francisco courts system.
In October 2019, the Libertarian Party of Sierra released a statement which sided with KERO in decriminalizing bestiality, arguing that the government should not have the power or right to prohibit it. It argued that morals and social mores should be left to private citizens rather than the government, emphasizing that while it believed bestiality should be legal, the party did not condone it. The statement was viewed as a major victory by KERO while the Libertarian Party received heavy condemnation and criticism by critics, as well as some party members who dissented with the party's statement.
Programs[edit | edit source]
According to KERO's governing bylaws, it defines itself as an organization "committed to the advocacy for acceptance, love, justice, compassion, equality, and recognition of the furry and zoosexual communities through public education, public awareness, legal action, and social justice". It maintains an active social media presence, encouraging members of both communities to embrace their identities, and provides resources on coming out, bestiality-related legislation or litigation, legal information, and accessibility to KERO-friendly conventions and events. Since 2011, it has broadened its scope to include otherkin as a group it advocates for. In 2019, it announced the start of Project ζ, an initiative to increase publicity and validation in society of zoophiles. It has also pressured the Anglo-American Psychological Association to update the DSM by removing zoophilia as a listed mental disorder.
It has engaged in a prolific campaign to develop an alliance with the LGBTQ+ community, arguing that zoosexuals are "objectively queer" and embraces "non-heteronormativity". Major LGBT rights organizations and groups have rejected any form of association or affiliation with KERO, and condemned KERO's attempts to equate the communities together. Lobbyists and lawyers working for KERO have unsuccessfully campaigned to abolish anti-bestiality laws and remove sex offender status for convicted zoophiles. It has also campaigned to add zoosexuals as a protected class under the Sierran Constitution, thereby removing workplace discrimination and harassment by employers due to the employee's known or suspected zoophilia.
Controversies[edit | edit source]
Since its inception, KERO has been subject to controversy by its very nature of promoting and defending a highly taboo practice. Its leadership and membership have also been placed under both legal and public scrutiny. Accusations of animal abuse and child abuse have frequently been made against KERO and its associates, despite the organization's "zero-tolerance policy" towards what it describes as "clear and undeniable abuse" against animals, as well as sexual contact with minors.
In 2005, the founder and president of KERO, John W. Hoffman, was arrested and charged with three counts of bestiality and two counts of statutory rape of a minor. During the investigation and trial, Hoffman was found to have developed an online relationship with a 15-year-old male who joined the organization. Hoffman suggested that the two should engage in sexual activity at Hoffman's residence with Hoffman's pet dog and cat. He also encouraged the minor to bring his own pet dog to participate. According to the prosecutor, the minor initially expressed disinterest in the meet-up due to the age disparity between the two. Hoffman repeatedly promised the minor monetary compensation as well as sexual gratification on 6 different occasions before the minor agreed to join Hoffman's tryst. On two separate occasions, Hoffman and the minor met, the first time at Hoffman's residence and the second time at Hoffman's Von Holt hotel room in San Francisco City while he attended the local furry convention as the KERO spokesman. Hoffman's pets and the minor's dog were only present during the first instance. The minor testified in court that Hoffman had to physically restrain the animals with chains and duct tape during the abusive episode. Hoffman entered into a plea bargain with the prosecution when he agreed to cooperate with the investigation on other abuse allegations made against KERO members. After pleading guilty, the judge sentenced Hoffman to 10 years in prison with no parole, a $50,000 fine, 250 hours of community service upon release, 10 years of supervised release, and permanent registry on Sierra's sex offender. Following Hoffman's conviction, he was officially terminated from KERO as its president (he had been suspended but not removed throughout the investigation and trial) and was replaced by his subordinate, Joshua Sakars.
Criticism[edit | edit source]
Legality[edit | edit source]
Ever since its inception, KERO's legality has been called into question multiple times. Throughout the 1990s, the organization was viewed in a negative light with conservative groups aligned with the Royalist Party accusing KERO of promoting "immoral sexually volatile and degenerative ideas" while liberal groups and those affiliated with and/or supporting the Democratic-Republican Party denounced the organization as "insane". In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Democratic-Republicans endorsed supporting LGBT rights, but maintained their opposition to KERO calling the organization a "disgrace and burden on the LGBT rights movement" and refused to recognize zoophilia as a legitimate sexual orientation.
Ban in the Commonwealth[edit | edit source]
On March 16th 2012, Executive Secretariat Baron Avery had called for the National Assembly to address what he called the "KERO problem" and believed that the organization was posing as a major legal issue and a threat in the United Commonwealth. Avery called for the organization to be deemed illegal accusing it of undermining Continental law and his position was supported by the wider Federalist Party as well. The Continentalist Party had also endorsed Avery's decision and KERO was made illegal following the passing of the Human and Animal Protection Act of 2012. The following weeks saw KERO chapters in the United Commonwealth forcibly shut down, the organization's leaders and prominent members arrested, and the group forcibly disbanded.