Visual Contamination: Disgust and the regulation of brothels

University of Melbourne Law School
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Passages: Law, Aesthetics, Politics, 2006, pp. 1 - 11
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Brothels have been able to operate as legitimate commercial businesses in NSW for over a decade. Despite this, brothels continue to be treated differently from other commercial businesses with similar amenity impacts. The planning principles enunciated by the Land and Environment Court in Martyn v Hornsby Shire Council [2004] have been highly influential in the differential treatment of brothels. These planning principles are highly restrictive and go beyond traditional planning concerns. This paper argues that these principles are animated by an aesthetic of disgust. William Miller s text Anatomy of Disgust, provides insight into why brothels may trigger disgust, due to their association with sex and immorality. The planning principles reflect disgust reactions, particularly in terms of the desire to remove the polluting and contaminating objects from the visual field. Finally, this paper considers strategies for reform in light of the association of brothels with disgust.
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