A SYDNEY judge’s comparison of incest and paedophile with homosexuality has been slammed by LGBTI advocates as being “completely unacceptable,” and an insult to people who have experienced sexual abuse.
District Court judge Garry Neilson was reported by Fairfax Media as saying that in the same manner as homosexuality was once seen as taboo, but is now accepted, so “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’”.
The judge’s comments arose in the case of a 58-year-old man who is charged with repeatedly raping his sister in the early 1980s when she was 18 and he was in his mid-20s.
The man pleaded not guilty to committing sexual intercourse without consent.
However, the Crown Prosecutor said the jurors should be told of an earlier charge where the man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when she was 10 or 11 and he was still a minor.
Judge Neilson refused the request, saying the later incidents occurred when the woman was older and were in a different context, noting she had had a child from a previous relationship.
He suggested the disclosure could unfairly cloud the jurors’ judgement: “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 sex outside marriage was not lawful,” Neilson said.
“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.”
Talking to the Star Observer, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby policy and project officer Jed Horner said “the comments attributed to the judge are completely unacceptable”.
“Not only do they make a highly offensive comparison between being gay and sexual offences, but they are an affront to members of the community which have experienced sexual abuse in their lives,” he said.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse president Dr Carol Kezelman, told Fairfax Media: “To equate homosexuality, incest and the crime of child sexual assault is as ill-informed as it is outrageous.
“For it to be paraded by a judge in Australia in 2014 during the time of the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse, or at any time, is beyond belief.”