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Sibling incest should be legalised - German ethics council

Consensual incest among adult siblings should be decriminalised in Germany, a proposition from a national ethics council says.

Susan Karolewski and Patrick Stuebing Source: BBC

Fourteen members of the German national ethics council out-voted nine others in favour of repealing a law that bans incest between siblings.

"The majority of the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo," the council said.

The Independent reports that the council made the recommendation after reviewing the case of Patrick Stuebing, a man who was adopted as a child and met his half-sister when he was 24 and she was 16.

The pair have four children together, however he was jailed for three years in 2008 and his sister, Susan Karolewski, was only allowed to keep one out of their four children.

Two of the children are disabled although it is unclear if that is a result of their parents being related.

Overnight, the German Ethics Council recommended that Section 173 of the German criminal code, which makes incest an offence under which offenders can be jailed for years, be repealed.

The chairman of the council, Christiane Woopen, was among the 14 members voting in favour of repealing the law, while nine people voted for the ban to continue and two abstained.

"In the case of consensual incest among adult siblings, neither the fear of negative consequences for the family, nor the possibility of the birth of children from such incestuous relationships can justify a criminal prohibition," she said.

Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, a spokeswoman for Angela Merkel's CDU party, said the abolition of the law against incest would send the wrong message.

"Abolishing criminal punishment against incestuous actions within a family would go completely against protecting the undisturbed development of children," she told Deutsche Welle.