'Incest is no longer a taboo,' says Australian judge Garry Neilson

The District Court Jude said incest was only illegal 'to prevent chromosomal abnormalities'

Across the world it is considered one of the final taboos – but a Sydney judge has suggested that incest is on a par with homosexuality.

District Court Judge Garry Neilson has been criticised for espousing the view that sexual contact between siblings or between adults and children should perhaps no longer be viewed as “unnatural” or “taboo”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Neilson drew parallels with widely changing attitudes towards gay sex. In the same way, he said, “a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner”.

The judge went on to say that incest is only criminalised because of the high chance that any resulting offspring will be born with serious birth defects, but added that “even that [risk] falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion”.

Neilson made the astonishing comments during the trial of a brother charged with raping his younger sister. The man had earlier pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when he was 17 and she was 10 or 11 in 1973 or 1974 – but pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual intercourse without consent, with an alternative charge of incest, for the alleged 1981 offence.

However, Neilson refused to admit the evidence from the earlier case. He claimed that the sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s was of a different nature to that which occurred in the 1980s when the girl was 18 and the man 26.

Neilson said: “By that stage they are both mature adults. The complainant has been sexually awoken, shall we say, by having two relationships with men and she had become ‘free’ when the second relationship broke down.

“The only thing that might change that is the fact that they were a brother and sister but we’ve come a long way from the 1950s … when the position of the English Common Law was that sex outside marriage was not lawful.”

He added that incest was only illegal “to prevent chromosomal abnormalities” and drew comparisons with the acceptance of homosexuality.

“If this was the 50s and you had a jury of 12 men there, which is what you’d invariably have, they would say it’s unnatural for a man to be interested in another man or a man being interested in a boy. Those things have gone.”

On Tuesday Crown Prosecutor Sally Dowling SC asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to hand over the case to a different judge because of Neilson’s “misogynistic” views.

“These remarks in my submission are completely disgraceful,” Dowling said.

“The reference to abortion is particularly repellent.”

And Nielson has now been referred to the NSW Judicial Commission by NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard, who has also asked the Chief Judge of the District Court that Neilson be removed from any criminal trials pending an investigation into the matter.

“I was extremely concerned to read the comments of His Honour Judge Garry Neilson in regard to his views on incest,” Hazzard said in a statement.

“In my view the community would be rightly appalled at his reported comments. Incest is completely reprehensible, unacceptable, disgusting and criminal.”

Dr Cathy Kezelman, the president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, said the comments were “outrageous”.

“The relational betrayal of the horrors of incest between a brother and sister of any age is abhorrently criminal,” she said.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits