Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Act Leader Jamie Whyte stands by incest comments

Act's new leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Natalie Slade
Act's new leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Natalie Slade

New Act Leader Jamie Whyte is standing by his comments that incestuous relationships between consenting adults should not be illegal and says it would be "intellectually corrupt" of him not to be honest when asked such questions.

In an article published on The Ruminator website, former philosophy lecturer Dr Whyte was asked whether the state should intervene if adult siblings wanted to marry each other.

"Well personally, I don't think they [the State] should", he replied, adding it was "a matter of almost no significance because it just doesn't happen".

Dr Whyte told the Herald his response was based on his belief that: "I don't think the state should intervene in consensual adult sex or marriage, but there are two very important elements here - consensual and adult".

"I wonder who does believe the state should intervene in consensual adult acts?"

He said he was "very opposed" to incest.

"I find it very distasteful I don't know why anybody would do it but it's a question of principle about whether or not people ought to interfere with actions that do no harm to third parties just because they personally wouldn't do it."

He did not believe the increased risk of congenital disorders in children from incestuous relationships was a valid reason for it to illegal.

" The probability of having some problem with the children is greater when the mother is over the age of 35 but I've never heard anyone suggest that anyone over the age of 35 shouldn't be allowed to have sex."

His view was not Act policy and "nobody who votes for Act has anything to fear".

Dr Whyte who was elected Act Leader earlier this month but officially takes over from John Banks this weekend said he was not prepared to avoid difficult questions like that about incest as other politicians might.

"Maybe I should, but it seems to me the people who find ways around it and avoid it are being less virtuous than me... I would have to be inconsistent, I would have to be intellectually corrupt."

- NZ Herald

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