A Sydney judge has compared incest and paedophilia to homosexuality, saying the community may no longer see sexual contact between siblings and between adults and children as “unnatural” or “taboo”. District Court Judge Garry Neilson said just as gay sex was socially unacceptable and a crime in the 1950s and 1960s but is now widely accepted, “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”. He also said the “only reason” that incest is still a crime is because of the high risk of genetic abnormalities in children born from consanguineous relationships “but even that falls away to an extent because there is such ease of contraception and ready access to abortion”.

Judge Neilson made the comments in the case of a 58-year-old man, known for legal reasons as MRM, who is charged with repeatedly raping his younger sister in the family’s western Sydney home in 1981. The man had earlier pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when she was 10 or 11 years old in 1973 or 1974 after police recorded a telephone conversation between the siblings in July 2011 in which he admitted to having sexual contact with her when she was “a kid”. But he has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual intercourse without consent, with an alternative charge of incest, regarding the 1981 events.


On April 7 a jury was empanelled and the Crown Prosecutor requested the jurors be told of the earlier misconduct to show MRM had a tendency to have a sexual interest in and have sexual intercourse with his sister. The Crown argued that without the background information, the jury might find it hard to understand why MRM began raping his sister “out of the blue” and why she did not report it to her parents or police. In the mid-1970s MRM had warned her not to tell their parents because they had just lost another son in a car crash and she remained fearful of upsetting her parents when the abuse recommenced in 1981.


But Judge Neilson refused to admit the evidence, saying the sexual abuse which had occurred when the girl was 10 or 11 and the youth was 17 occurred in a different context to the sex which happened when she was 18 and he was 26. By 1981, she had had sexual relationships with two men and had a young child. “By that stage they are both mature adults. The complainant had been sexually awoken by having relationships with two men and had become ‘free’ when the second relationship broke down,” Judge Neilson said. “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 English Common Law said that sex outside marriage was not lawful.”

He went on to say incest only remains a crime “to prevent chromosomal abnormalities” but the availability of contraception and abortion now diminishes that reason. “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.” Crown Prosecutor Sally Dowling SC asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to remit the case to a judge other than Judge Neilson because of the “misogynistic” attitude he displayed towards the complainant. “These remarks in my submission are completely disgraceful,” Ms Dowling said. “The reference to abortion is particularly repellent.”


Justices Arthur Emmett, Derek Price and Elizabeth Fullerton reserved their decision. Adults Surviving Child Abuse president Dr Cathy Kezelman said: “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. Literally thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse have given testimony before the commission of the decades of damage their abuse has caused,” Dr Kezelman said.


“The relational betrayal of the horrors of incest between a brother and sister of any age is abhorrently criminal. Failure to understand that prior abuse disempowers the victim establishing the ground for future assaults is ignorant. This together with referring to a sibling as being sexually ‘free’ or ‘available’ demands strict censure.” Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston called for Judge Neilson to step down from the bench for “ludicrous and obscene remarks”. “These comments are offensive to every child, every victim, every homosexual person in this country.” Ms Johnston also called on the case to be referred to the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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In a widely hailed move, the Medical Board of Australia has used their emergency powers to suspend the medical registration of euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke. In doing so, the Board has deemed Nitschke to be a ‘serious risk to persons’ such that it is necessary to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of the public. The suspension applies until the conclusion of investigations into all complaints that have been lodged against Nitschke. The Board had given Nitschke 48 hours to give reason as to why his registration should not be suspended. In response, Nitschke’s lawyers generated an 18-page response document which the Board reviewed when they met.

According to Nitschke, the letter notifying him of the suspension stated that his view “that people have a right to choose suicide is incompatible with modern medicine.” News of Nitschke’s suspension has been welcomed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA). According to Dr. Andrew Miller, doctors have been “very disturbed for a long time” with what Nitschke has been doing. “We feel that he’s basically a poisonous snake oil salesman and it’s time he was taken off the streets,” Miller said. This is in complete contrast to the AMA attack on the Board over Nitschke less than two years ago, when they questioned the Board’s ability to investigate a practitioner for activities outside his professional work as a doctor.


The AMA had even suggested funding Dr. Nitschke’s defence themselves. (Nitschke’s medical insurance has a specific disclaimer stating that there is no cover for expenses arising from his pro-euthanasia activities.) The decision was also welcomed by friends of Perth man Nigel Brayley who only discovered the involvement of Nitschke and Exit International after Brayley’s suicide. Kerry and Trish O’Neill don’t believe the Board had any other choice, and that they are compelled to maintain high standards in the medical profession. Nitschke’s response to the furore associated with his involvement with Brayley has been to attack both the dead man and the 7:30 Report journalist who revealed it.


In his latest edition of his eDeliverance newsletter, Nitschke alleges that the interview was an unfair ambush with “a crew of five against one.” He also stated “this journalist lied through her teeth” during the interview. He has filed a complaint against the program for allegedly breaching journalistic codes of practice. Nitschke’s stance is that there was no duty of care owed to refer Brayley on to a mental health professional or anti-suicide counselling service. In a press conference in Adelaide Nitschke attacked Brayley, calling him a “serial wife killer” and “a person who decided to die rather than spend the next 20 years in jail.”


Brayley had been considered an unnamed suspect in the disappearance of his wife, a factor in his emotional and financial exhaustion leading up to his suicide. He previously had two unrelated incidents earlier in his life where female friends had either died or disappeared. But according to Brayley’s friend Kerry O’Neil, Nitschke’s “just trying to deflect the criticism from himself. I think he’s been basically caught out and he knows it and he’s trying to deflect the blame.”


Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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George Brandis’ infamous defence of the rights of bigots has been cited by his own colleagues as the cause of the government’s capitulation on changing race-hate laws. Liberals said the Attorney-General’s comments in April had torpedoed what was a move to uphold free speech. Liberal Senator Dean Smith backed the proposed changes but said they had gotten off to a ”bad start”. ”The section 18C debate has been a powerful but salient lesson for the government. The debate demonstrated that sound policy not handled with care and precision early, can be quickly and easily hijacked by critics,” he said.

NSW Liberal Craig Kelly said the bigot comment had allowed the government’s critics to ”twist and hijack” the debate against the government and it never recovered. ”It’s very difficult when someone stands up and talks about giving rights to bigots to then explain that.” He said while the Attorney-General was factually correct, it was a ”legal argument rather than a political one”. He also called on the government to better prepare the electorate on the need for major reforms, including fixing the deficit. Queensland Liberal National MP George Christensen said the government should have ”stuck to its guns on such a fundamental issue”. ”The debate got side-tracked and could have been handled better” Christensen said.


Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said although he had concerns about the proposed bill, he did not think it should have had to be junked altogether. ”I supported the principle of the policy and I would have liked to have seen us improve it rather than dump it but I accept that was the political reality,” he said. But Victorian Liberal MP Jason Wood defended Senator Brandis and said he held him in ”very high regard”. Senator Brandis said he had no regrets. ”It’s the obligation of politicians to speak the truth and to sometimes speak the truth brutally. I’m not the sort of politician who is the creature of spin doctors and who talks in talking points or mantras, what I said was correct.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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