Incest in Marrriage? New Zealand ACT Leader Jamie Whyte Stands by His 'Incest Comments'

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By Reissa Su | February 28, 2014 6:11 PM EST

New Zealand ACT Party leader John Banks will be handing over the reins of leadership to Jamie Whyte on Feb 28.

Mr Whyte is currently in the hot seat after making his controversial comments about incest and the implication it made on marriage. According to reports, his statements sounded like he was condoning incest.

Mr Whyte was asked in an interview if New Zealand should intervene if siblings wanted to marry one another. He said he didn't think the state should interfere in these matters. Mr Whyte added the topic was not significant because it doesn't happen in the country.

When asked for his reaction to Mr Whyte's comments, Prime Minister John Key said it was "pretty silly" since "there's no place for incest." Meanwhile Labour party leader David Cunliffe has asked to stay away from the subject.

The new ACT leader said he will stand by his comments that incestuous relationships between two adults should not be against the law. He remarked that it will be "intellectually corrupt" for him if he is not honest with his answers.

Mr Whyte, who is a former philosophy lecturer, said it was his personal opinion that the state should not intervene in incestuous relationships. In a report by the Herald, Mr Whyte said he believes there is no reason for New Zealand to interfere in "consensual adult sex or marriage" between siblings.

He clarified he was "very opposed" to incest and finds it "distasteful." However, Mr Whyte said that the increased risk of congenital disorders in children borne out of incest is valid reason to make it illegal.

The possibility of problems in children is more likely when the mother is over the age of 35. Mr Whyte said he hasn't heard of anyone over 35 not allowed to have sex. According to reports, his opinion was not an official ACT policy and assured those who will be voting for ACT that they have nothing to be afraid of.

After assuming the ACT party leadership, he said he was not prepared to avoid difficult questions about incest unlike "other politicians."

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