German courts may continue to punish incest. Punishing an incestuous union is not a violation of human rights, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The judges in Strasbourg thus rejected on Thursday the complaint of a now 35-year-old Leipzig man who had fathered four children with his sister, who was seven years younger than him, and was sentenced to prison several times for it.
The Strasbourg ruling is not yet legally binding. It is undisputed, according to the Human Rights Court, that the man's conviction by German courts constituted an interference with his right to respect for private life. However, the German judiciary did not exceed its margin of appreciation in this case. In this respect, there is no violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
There is no unanimous opinion among the European states on this ie. The German legal authorities had taken into account the protection of the family and sexual self-determination as well as public health against the background of the social conviction that incest is punishable. The Human Rights Court also referred to the argument that sexual relations between siblings could seriously affect family structures and consequently society as a whole.
Protection of the morals and rights of others
The Leipzig man's conviction was mandatory under the German penal code, which criminalizes sexual relations between biological siblings. The aim was to protect the morals and rights of others. In the question of incestuous relationships, there is a wide margin of appreciation in international jurisprudence. This had not been exceeded by the German judiciary, according to the Human Rights Court.
The complainant had grown up in a foster family and had only met his sister, who was seven years younger, at the age of 24. A love relationship developed between the siblings. They had four children together between 2001 and 2005.
For coitus between relatives, the man was first sentenced to a suspended prison term in 2002. In the years that followed, he was sentenced to more than three years in prison. In 2008, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe dismissed an appeal against the proposals. Proceedings against nurse dropped because she suffers from personality disorder.
According to the law of the Catholic Church, marriage, and thus cohabitation between first-degree blood relatives, violates divine law, which cannot be dispensed with under any circumstances.