Thursday, March 15, 2007

Germany: Brother and Sister Fight for the Right to Marry

Given popular wisdom today, if it is between two consenting adults, why not incest?

UPDATE 7/20/14: Judge Says Incest OK; It's the New Gay

UPDATE 11/1/14: New York Incestuous Marriage OKd by Unanimous Appeals Court

UPDATE 1/18/15: Teen Girl to Marry Father in New Jersey—Adult Incest is Legal

UPDATE 9/24/14: "Incest a 'fundamental right', German committee says" by Justin Huggler, in Berlin for UK Telegraph

Laws banning incest between brothers and sisters in Germany could be scrapped after a government ethics committee said the they were an unacceptable intrusion into the right to sexual self-determination.

“Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo,” the German Ethics Council said in a statement. “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.”

The Council said it based its recommendation on extensive research, in which it found many incestuous couples are forced to live in secret.

Incest remains illegal in the UK and most European countries, although France abolished its incest laws under Napoleon I and there has been growing debate over the taboo in Germany.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Incest: an age-old taboo" posted 3/12/07, at BBC News

The phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction - where siblings fall for each other on meeting after an estranged childhood - accounts for some of the high-profile incest cases of recent years.

In the German case, Patrick was brought up in a foster home while Susan remained with the biological parents, meeting for the first time when she was 16 and he 23.
And in the US case of Allen and Patricia Muth, which went to the Supreme Court in 2005, the sister was raised in care, not meeting her brother until she was 18.
Both of them have served prison sentences for incest.
In parts of the US, first cousins may marry if they are beyond reproductive age or ability.

But even in countries where incest between adults is not prosecuted, the rights of both parents and children born of incest are not clear cut.
France dropped incest from the penal code under Napoleon - 200 years ago.
But siblings may not marry, and in 2004, a man who was having a sexual relationship with his half-sister was refused legal paternity of his own child.
In the Netherlands meanwhile, where consensual incest is no longer prosecuted, the legal status of the child born of such a relationship is ambiguous, according to Masha Antokolskaia, an expert in family law at the Free University in Amsterdam.
Sweden is the only country in Europe which allows marriage between siblings who share a parent.
"In many ways society no longer wants the state to intervene in private lives when it doesn't have to," she says. "But it is still not prepared to grant incestuous couples full rights."
There is also debate over how much laws affect behaviour. Some even argue that what is proscribed becomes all the more attractive.
Not according to Joachim Renzikowski, a criminal law professor at Germany's Halle University.
"I don't believe that because incest is banned, there's a certain attraction about doing it," he says.
"But I doubt equally that getting rid of our incest law will result in any measurable increase in cases. Our moral guardians don't need to get too worked up about this."
Read the rest of this article.