The Australian parliament building in Canberra, Australia. (Ashley Cooper/Avalon/Getty)
A leaked video of an Australian government staffer masturbating and performing a sex act in parliament should be investigated as “revenge porn”, an MP has argued.
Gay Liberal staffer Nathan Winn was fired for lewd conduct last week after an explicit video was leaked to the Australian press. The video showed Winn giving a blow job to a man in Parliament House and masturbating on a female MP’s desk.
The footage was circulated by Winn’s ex-friend and occasional lover Gavin Cuddy, who claims he has compromising images of other Liberal staffers, too.
“Let’s make it clear: it is revenge porn,” Liberal MP Warren Entsch told The Age. “Any material provided to the government should be forwarded to the Australian Federal Police for investigation.”
Cuddy’s threats to expose further staffers have triggered “highly offensive” scrutiny by journalists of any government staff who are openly gay, according to the MP, who’s known as a strong advocate for LGBT+ rights.
He moved to defend Winn, who previously worked in his office when he was the government’s chief whip. He made no excuses for the staffer’s conduct, but said Cuddy should also be held to account for providing the video to journalists.
Cuddy claimed he handed the footage to a Network Ten journalist to “call out the culture” inside Parliament House. He denies his actions were revenge porn, that he was politically motivated or that he intended to harm Winn.
Entsch cast doubt on this, noting that Cuddy’s relationship with the staffer became strained after Winn started a relationship with his current partner and fiancé.
“Nathan basically shut him down and this character has now decided to get even,” the MP said.
Winn and Cuddy met about five years ago, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and hooked up once or twice before becoming friends.
Over the years they shared sexual images with each other, though Cuddy admitted that he kept sending explicit images after Winn stopped reciprocating. Entsch said that at one point Winn’s new partner intervened and told Cuddy to leave him alone.
The friendship “ended when his partner started spreading hate about me,” Cuddy said, but he strongly disputed Entsch’s claim that he shared the video to “get even”.
Sharing or publishing of intimate images in the ACT without someone’s consent is a criminal offence, and if Cuddy is found guilty he could face three years in jail.
“The ACT laws make it very clear that the distribution of intimate images is a criminal offence unless there is real, informed consent by the person portrayed in the image,” said Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns.
“These laws were put on the statute books for a very good reason. In the age of the internet and technology, the rapid distribution of intimate images can be extraordinary painful for the victim.”
A spokesperson for finance minister Simon Birmingham, whose department employed Winn, told the paper that he was “urgently establishing a process to examine the matters that were raised last week”.