Australian Gov. Warns Penthouse Over ‘Obscene’ Pics

Q Boyer
SYDNEY — Penthouse, Australia’s top-selling adult magazine, may be required to submit all its future issues for approval by Australian government censors following a ruling by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) that its latest issue “emphasized genitals.”

One of the photos in question is described as “a depiction of two breast naked females standing with their breasts pressed against one another,” according to documents obtained by

Penthouse maintains that the images determined to be too obscene by the OFLC are almost indistinguishable from pictures in previous issues of the magazine.

“Images in previous issues were nearly identical, but this is the first time it’s happened to us,” said Penthouse editor Ian Gerrard, who added that he was bewildered by the sudden scrutiny from the OFLC.

Gerrard said that decisions as to what can be depicted in the newsstand editions of Australian Penthouse, described as “weaker” than its American counterpart, are made in concert with regulators from the OFLC.

“We have to avoid ‘genital emphasis’ in our images, which we’re quite stringent about,” Gerrard said. “We look at images published in the past which were approved by the OFLC as a kind of template.”

Gerrard said that he suspects the real problem with the most recent issue may have nothing to do with the photos. The issue at question also contains excerpts from a controversial book written by euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke.

“[Nitschke’s book] delivers a scathing attack on Attorney General Phillip Ruddock,” Gerrard said.

Ruddock said that the excerpts had nothing to do with the OFLC’s ruling.

“I am advised that the content in question is not the extract from the Nitschke article,” Ruddock said. “In any event, this is a matter for the classification board, which is an independent statutory body.”

OFLC director Donald McDonald said the board is still considering the matter, and has not made a final decision as to demanding prior review of future issues of Penthouse.

According to the OFLC website, a “submittable publication” is any publication that is “likely to be restricted to adults because it contains depictions or descriptions likely to cause offense to a reasonable adult, is unsuitable for a minor to see or read, or is likely to be refused classification.”

Penthouse has until July 15 to appeal the OFLC decision. Gerrard said that if the appeal were to fail, prior review of Penthouse would result in at least $30,000 extra cost per edition.