Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Uh, Why Is It Illegal Again?

Dr. Paul Behrens who teaches law at the University of Leicester, asked a question I've asked and answered, "Why is incest a crime?" He points to the travesty of the recent decision by the so-called European Court of Human Rights.
In Germany, Hans-Christian Ströbele, a prominent voice in the Green party, was particularly outspoken: in his view, the criminalisation of incest is a remnant from the bad old days, when adultery and homosexuality were still punishable. Even members of the German government are critical about the current law: the German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, talked publicly about the insufficiency of criminal law where incest is concerned, and  has suggested preventative measures and therapy.

The Conservative parties on the other hand left no doubt about their position on the matter, with the Bavarian Minister of the Interior (Hermann) reportedly saying that the health of the population must be protected. The ‘health of the population’?

Hermann, presumably, refers to the danger of genetic diseases which might be passed on to children of incestuous couples.
 But of course, Hermann must not have read my answer to Discredited Argument #18.  Dr. Behrens effectively counters as well...
But the law against incest is not a law against procreation: siblings who are not able to have children, are still banned from having sex. And there are other, more fundamental, issues. Is there a duty to society to create only healthy offspring? Would that not mean that criminal law should prohibit intercourse even among non-related partners where there is a danger of passing on hereditary diseases? Few people, it seems, would be prepared to go as far as that.

He goes on to address Discredited Argument #19...
Then there is the damage that incest may cause to the structure of the family unit, and its potential danger to trust within the family. But the law against incest is not a law against disturbances to family life. It did apply to Stübing, even though in his case, the family unit had never existed. The partners met as virtual strangers; and the relationship was one between consenting adults.
He notes...

The Strasbourg judgment, it seems, will not be the end of the matter – nor should it be. One thing must be understood – the judges at the European court did not say that the State must have a law against incest; that was not the question. They merely confirmed that a State was not prevented from having one.

Which makes me wonder... what other consensual, private, adult relationships can be outlawed? There is no reason to ban or discriminate against consanguinamory (consensual incest); the excuses people make for their bigotry and prejudice tend not to be be consistently applied to other relationships, and are shams. These laws hurt people. They are hurting people right now. No law should stand in the way of love between consenting adults.
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