Monday, May 15, 2023

How Consanguineous Lovers Can Avoid Trouble

Believe it or not, there are still criminal laws in many places criminalizing consensual sex between adults, and there are still police officers who will investigate people for this "crime," still prosecutors who will take the case before a court, and still judges and jurors who will convict people and sentence them to prison. There are still social workers who will take children away from good parents because those parents love other adults.

It doesn't matter to them how loving the relationships are. It doesn't matter if they love each other more than they could love others, it doesn't matter if the lovers didn't even meet each other until they were adults. It apparently doesn't matter to the people interfering that every dollar or minute they spend trying to stop consenting adults from loving each other is a dollar or minute that could instead go into protecting people, especially children, against predators.

In addition to this persecution of consanguinamorous people, there aren't any protections against other forms of discrimination against the consanguinamorous, such as employment discrimination. There are still many states that don't have protections for LGBT people, either, and polyamorous people are even less protected than monogamous LGBT people.

I sometimes forget that people don’t follow the news and law as closely as I do for this blog, so they may be unaware of these things. So I want to share with you what I've learned.

First, note the disclaimer that there is an ever-present at the bottom of this blog. I'll mostly repeat it here:

The focus of this blog is consenting adults. This blog does not advocate anyone engage in activity that is currently illegal in their jurisdiction; it does advocate changing or repealing any law that prevents the freedom of association, love, and full marriage equality for adults. This blog condemns rape, sexual assault, and child molestation, and does not provide medical, therapeutic, legal, financial, or cooking advice. This blog links to other sites for informational purposes; it does not necessarily support everything at those links.
OK, with that out of the way, I'll continue as a friend.

The vast majority of people who have consensual sex with a close relative never get "caught." 10-15% of people in their early 20s will confide in surveys to having had consensual sexual contact with a sibling. The percentages rise in older age groups. That's just the people who will confide in the surveys, and doesn't include being with aunts, uncles, parents, etc.. The percentages increase in older age groups because there are more opportunities over the years. Many of those situations involve a moment or a fling or something that just lasts for a season, but in other cases they are long-term romances and lifelong spousal relationships.

I hear from people terrified of being prosecuted or losing their children because those adults are with consenting adults and some person with authority doesn't approve.

While most never get prosecuted, the threat is always there in so many places, and I regularly find news reports of such prosecutions. When people do get caught and publicly persecuted and, often, prosecuted, in almost every case, the lovers were outed and handed over to ax-grinding prosecutors due to one or more of a few factors (presented in no particular order):

1) Self-incrimination.
2) Being ratted out by a claimed witness.
3) Testing and reporting of a child's DNA.
4) Being caught in the act by law enforcement.

In other words, it isn’t like the police come door to door, scan crowds in public, or are doing stakeouts to catch consanguineous lovers breaking laws against consensual incest. That's the good news. But let's take a closer look at the bad news.

Self-incrimination. One of the problems is that people either "confess" or tell law enforcement way too much that they don't have to. One or more of them admit the relationship, often not aware it is (still, stupidly) illegal where they are, wrongly thinking if they explain it was consensual then of course the police will leave them alone. For a real-life example of this, see this posting. Law enforcement may also get a hold of some media (love letters, texts, homemade videos) that documents the sexual aspect of the relationship. That's right... doing something so many other lovers do freely can be used against these consensual relationships.

Ratted out. Someone outside of the relationship, whether a nosy neighbor, a malicious ex, a jealous or envious family member, even a professional/academic/social rival sees something, hears something, or just gets a hunch based on how the lovers are smitten with each other and they contact the authorities. See this example.

Child. If someone dares to exercise their reproductive rights and have a child together, the DNA of that child is proof of parentage. Contrary to popular myths, most children born to close relatives are healthy and do not look any different than any other child. Many of the ones I've seen are beautiful children. But, if the child's DNA is tested and the results showing the parents are consanguineous reported to the authorities, depending on the circumstances it may be used as evidence against the lovers. See this example.

Caught in public. Many, many people have had sex in "public" places, usually without getting caught. Depending on the circumstances, police might send the lovers on their way. But, if in checking identification and asking questions, the police determine that the lovers are closely related (see "self-incrimination" above), they might arrest the lovers even when they would have otherwise let them go. See this example.

So what can those who enjoy consanguinamory do to protect themselves? Any of these steps might help.

1) Consult a lawyer. I am not a lawyer. A criminal defense or family law attorney might be someone well worth consulting. (If you are an attorney willing to help, please contact us as we'd like to develop a private list of friendly legal counsel.) Do not tell the attorney you are breaking the law or plan to. But you can ask questions, including “hypothetical” questions and “I have a friend who…” questions.

2) Move to more enlightened states or countries. Moving also may get you away from those who are aware of your biological relation and would oppose your relationship. The best states in the US are Rhode Island and New Jersey. Perhaps the worst state is Texas, which technically criminalizes sex between first cousins (as do a few others).

3) Be careful who you tell and what you tell them. In the US, we have a Constitutional right against self-incrimination (see 5th Amendment) and the right to remain silent when questioned or arrested by law enforcement. It's a good idea when dealing with police to give them polite, brief "yes" or "no" or "I don't know" or "I don't remember" answers unless even one of those could incriminate you. In the US, you also have the right to an attorney and it is a good idea speak up and demand a lawyer if you're questioned, held or taken in by police. Also in the US, unless there is imminent danger to someone, you don't have the let police into your home without a search warrant, and even search warrants can have limits. YOU may think something is obvious and gives you away, the police may even have figured it out, but staying silent about it can still protect you. Please see this about talking with the police.

4) Be careful what you document. Many lovers enjoy taking video or pictures of themselves having fun with each other, but for the consanguinamorous, such media, if it falls into the wrong hands, can be trouble.

5) Have a cover story. Anticipate questions, whether from those who know you or those who don't who might not approve. There's nothing unusual or unconventional about family members living together, going places together, or frequently visiting each other. In extreme situations, consanguineous lovers might want to take on "beards," meaning pretending to have a relationship with (even marrying) others to direct attention away from their "forbidden" relationship. If someone does this, it is better not to deceive the beard(s) but rather have an agreement with someone who is fully informed. An example of an ideal situation along these lines would be if two siblings from one family married two siblings from another family. Such marriages have always gone on and were even popular in some places in the past, whether as real marriages or as beard situations.

Lovers may want to discuss The Red Button as an option, in case law enforcement ever takes an interest in the relationship.

6) Know your risk in having biological children together. Many consanguineous lovers opt not to take the risk, either for genetic reasons or legal reasons (or, like other people, because they just plain preferred not to have children). In some places, a credible defense if DNA proves a child was born to close relatives is to claim that the child was conceived through using a turkey baster or condom or sex toy that resulted in artificial insemination (the claim would be that the person with the sperm ejaculated onto or into the object, which was then inserted into the vagina). In such places, it is the actual sex act that is criminal, not having genetic children together.

7) Stick to private places and lock the door when you get to the fun.

For more, see this by Cristina on dealing with authorities in the US and Jane's blog entry on dealing with the authorities in the UK.

Note that most ethicists say it is OK to lie to authorities who are trying to enforce unjust laws or polices. An extreme example is a Nazi SS officer asking you, "Are you hiding any Jews here?" It was ethical to say "No." Well, I think that applies here, too, though the situation is not as extreme. It is nobody else's business if adults are having consensual sex.

This advice shouldn't even be necessary, but until we get to the point where we have relationship rights for all adults, including full marriage equality, consanguinamorous people should think about protecting themselves. Of course, some level of trouble is necessary to make change. Laws need to be overturned in courts or changed by legislatures, but it is up to each set of lovers to decide for themselves if they want to come out of the closet to push for those things. I have seen at least two couples come out publicly on Facebook, which resulted, in at least one of the cases, them being given trouble by some of the people who were supposed to be their friends. But the more other people realize that consanguinamory is a reality all around them, the sooner the persecution will be greatly reduced.

Police officers usually have some wiggle-room when it comes to investigating or arresting people can can look the other way if they choose. Prosecutors can choose not to prosecute. Judges can dismiss cases. Juries can refuse to convict (research jury nullification). So I beg these people to let consenting adults love each other without harassment, without prosecution.

Do you have any suggestions? Any tales to tell about what you've done to protect yourself, or being caught, or catching someone? What do you think, dear reader? Leave a comment or email me at fullmarriageequality at protonmail dot com 
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  1. Here's my extra suggestion: never talk to the police, always plead the 5th, unless instructed otherwise by your lawyer.

    1. This link was an error. I meant this one;

    2. Updated URL:

  2. It may be that most children born to consanguineous matings are fine (although the relative risk of a serious problem is still markedly elevated), but it is also true that when something does go wrong, it goes wrong in a terrible way. Don't be naive about this: most people can play a round of Russian Roulette and not die. That doesn't mean that taking the one in six chance of blowing your brains out is a good idea.

    1. That's what genetic counseling is for, including genetic testing. In the cases of SOME consanguineous couples, the risk of birth defects is significantly lower than even the one found in the general population (i.e., 2-3%). So in other words, for THEM, it's actually safer to have children with each other than with some random non-related person.

      We don't send autistic people to prison for having sex, do we? The same people who will bash you for being in a consanguinamorous relationship are just positively effusive about how "brave" Tay-Sachs parents and sickle-cell anemia parents are to attempt to have a child, or how wonderful it is that parents bring a Down syndrome baby to term. There's a LOT of hypocrisy and inconsistency in people's ethics.

    2. " That's what genetic counseling is for, including genetic testing. In the cases of SOME consanguineous couples, the risk of birth defects is significantly lower than even the one found in the general population. [...] There's a LOT of hypocrisy and inconsistency in people's ethics."

      Oh my god yes. Exactly. Couldn't have said it better.

  3. I've noticed that your blog links to the NSGC website, which offers a search engine to find a genetic counselor in one's area, across Northern America. However, most Northern American jurisdiction have anti-incest laws. So I'm just wondering, legally speaking, would it be safe to contact a genetic counselor this way, for a consanguinamorous couple, or might it be asking for trouble?

    1. Each person needs to check out things for themselves, such as asking what they check for, what are the obligations and restrictions as far as reporting, etc. in some places, it's entirely legal for close relatives to use artificial insemination with each other.

    2. Thank you, Keith.

      I suppose, the knowledge of just how accepting of consanguineous couples a given doctor is would have to go mainly just by word of mouth, or at least by private conversation on the Internet.

      RE:"in some places, it's entirely legal for close relatives to use artificial insemination with each other."
      Sexual relations are illegal, but reproduction is legal... the irony and dissonance are just impressive! aren't they? Then again, incest laws rarely have any logical consistency to them. Jurisprudence is meant to reflect ethics, not arbitrary caprice. Just imagine what amendments would have to be made if legislators were consistent in their reasoning: incest laws would only concern heterosexuals, fertile ones; several European countries would have to either ban avunculate marriage or legalize marriage between half-siblings; and people with certain heritable disorders would be banned from having children and/or having sex -- as would, absurdly, middle-aged Texans.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful blog, Keith.

    I've been in a consanguineous relationship for some time now and since it is now obvious that we want it to be a long-term commitment, we've been reading about all the possible risks (legally speaking). This is how I came across this blog and I want to thank you!

  5. Suppose that a couple sends 4 DNA samples to a genetic counselor Identified as A, B, C, D and asks the genetic counselor to rate and evaluate the risk for the combinations AB AC AD BC BD and CD would it be possible to get that done, thereby getting the desired information without revealing the identity of the consanguineous couple considering marriage.

  6. can’t let anything go unchecked cause the laws are broken.

  7. Can you please correct New Zealand, it is not all illegal. And Queensland in Australia does NOT allow uncle/niece

  8. the incest relation that interests me most is the mother/son relation.

    how possible is it for a mom/son to have a long term relationship, children..even grand children from the children the mother son have?

    and supposedly with legality we have open marriage of mom/son how does society relate to them, their children and grand children?

    where I live avuncular marriage has long been legal but I have never see a study that investigates the experience of those relations in the country. I will search. maybe that experience can help develop an idea of what legal mom/son relations would be like, its full potential

    interesting..but I anticipate great difficulties for mom/son relations that may render their potential limited to fairly temporary things that fill in for a lost or divorced husband, the absence of a father in the home, a single mom etc. these may go until age tells them its time to find more suitable mates by age

    I mean such limitations does not prevent the mom/son couple from having a child if they want one..while working out ways they can bring that child up well.

  9. agreed that lovers should have protected themselves! theres so much ignorance in this world! you got to wake the world up with truth!


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