Laws against incest between siblings in Germany could be repealed after a government-backed ethics committee determined last week that it is not up to the courts to decide what consenting adults are allowed to do.
The government-funded board released a statement defending the rights of people involved in incestuous relationships.
“According to all available data, sibling incest appears to be very rare in Western societies. But affected people have described how difficult their situation is. They feel that their basic rights are not respected and forced into secrecy or denial of their love.”
“The right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination in a consensual relationship weighs heavier in these cases than the abstract good of the family,” the council concluded in the report. “Neither the consequences for the family nor the possibility for descendants from such incestuous relationships can justify a ban under criminal law.”‘
Psychotherapist Dr. Michael Wunder, a member of the council, told NBC, “The majority of the German Ethics Council believes that it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo. But the ethics council does not recommend decriminalizing sex between parents and children.”
According German news outlet, The Local, nine of the 26-member council opposed the motion, arguing that the laws against incest “protected the integrity and incompatibility of different familial roles, as an important precondition of healthy personality development.”
The nine members who opposed the motion suggested that unusual cases, such as half-siblings who meet later in life and begin a sexual relationship, could be dealt with on in individual basis by guidance to prosecutors instead of changing the law.
The council’s intervention came about following a case in which a brother and sister living together as partners had four children together, two of whom were disabled. The couple had been raised apart, according to The Telegraph, only meeting when the brother was an adult and the sister was 16.
After the courts ruled that there was a duty to protect the four children from the consequences of the incestuous relationship, the family was forced to live apart and the man was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
The couple has failed in their attempts to have the guilty verdict overturned by the European Court of Human Rights.
Elisabeth Winkelmeir-Becker, legal policy spokesperson for the ruling Christian Democrats party, feels that the German government is not likely to adopt the council’s recommendations.
Although France overturned its incest laws in the 19th century, incest is still illegal in most Western countries. As reported in this Inquisitr article, it is also generally considered a way of life that is harmful to the children of the offenders.
“The abolition of the offense of incest between siblings would be the wrong signal,” she was quoted in The Telegraph. “Eliminating the threat of punishment against incestuous acts within families would run counter to the protection of undisturbed development for children.”
What do you think? Is incest a fundamental right between consenting adults?
[Image via Free Patriot]