An Australian judge has been suspended from hearing criminal cases and is under investigation after complaints about his reported comments earlier this year that “incest is no longer taboo,” because of increased availability of abortion and contraception.
The Sydney District Court judge aroused the backlash when he compared incest to homosexuality, saying that sexual contact between siblings and between adults and children are no longer seen as “unnatural” or “taboo.”
Judge Garry Neilson said during a trial in April that just as homosexuality has been accepted since the 1950s, “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 trial was of a man accused of having raped his sister in the 1970s and again in 1981. At the trial, Neilson said that the 1981 offence was different from the earlier assault because by that time the man was 26 and his sister/victim, 18.
Australian papers owned by Fairfax Media group are reporting Neilson having 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.”
Incest, he said, was only illegal “to prevent chromosomal abnormalities” adding, “even that falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion.”
“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.”
The Australian Daily Telegraph also revealed that Neilson in November 2011 had given a different man a light sentence for repeatedly raping his niece, because there had been no “rough treatment”. The Daily Telegraph reports that the man had been in “de facto relationship” with the girl’s mother, his sister, at the time. They quoted court documents showing that Judge Neilson had said that because there was no ejaculation, the victim, who had been 15 and 16 at the time of the rapes, “had not been exposed to the risk of pregnancy or having some sexually transmitted disease”.
New South Wales Attorney-General Brad Hazzard has referred Neilson to the Judicial Commission for a review of the comments, saying, “In my view, the community would be rightly appalled at his reported comments.”
“Incest is completely reprehensible, unacceptable, disgusting and criminal.”
Hazzard has also written to District Court chief judge Reg Blanche asking that Neilson be removed from criminal trials until the Commission has completed its investigation.
A child sex abuse advocacy group has issued a statement saying, “To equate homosexuality, incest and the crime of child sexual assault is as ill-informed as it is outrageous.
Hetty Johnston the founder of Bravehearts, an Australian anti-pedopilia advocacy group, said, “These comments are offensive to every child, every victim, every homosexual person in this country.” Johnston called for Neilson to be removed permanently from his position.