Nude teen photos cleared by Australian censor

Photographs of nude teenagers that prompted police to close a gallery exhibit in Australia's biggest city and launch an obscenity investigation were cleared today by censors as non-pornographic.

The ruling on leading Australian photographer Bill Henson's portraits came two weeks after police shut his latest exhibition in Sydney just before opening night and confiscated dozens of photographs of naked adolescent boys and girls to investigate whether they violated obscenity laws.

A spokeswoman for Australia's Classification Board said six photos had been referred to them. The board gave five of them a G rating, and one a PG.

The PG photo - of a 13-year-old girl - was used on the cover of the invitation to the exhibit.

It was believed to have caused the initial complaints that led to the police shutdown of the exhibit and the investigation.

The image "creates a viewing impact that is mild and justified by context ... and is not sexualised to any degree," the board found.

Police did not immediately announce that they were closing their investigation, and it was not clear today whether the ruling would lead to the reopening of the Henson exhibit at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Henson, 52, a renowned artist whose work is displayed in galleries around the world, has not spoken publicly since the controversy erupted.

The police investigation set off a debate over censorship versus art, with prime minister Kevin Rudd calling the photos "revolting".

He was countered by actress Cate Blanchett and other artists, who argued that creativity was being stifled.

Mr Rudd said today that he stood by his views of the work but that the matter was for independent bodies to decide.

"I ... said what my views are as a parent, I don't budge from that," Mr Rudd told Nine Network television. "But I'm not about to go around and start dictating to the legal authorities what they should or should not do."

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