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German Ethics Council says incest is a 'fundamental right'

A German committee has decided that while incest may be a "social taboo," it's also a "fundamental right" — one that shouldn't be regulated by the law.

"Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo," the German Ethics Council, a government committee, said in a statement. "The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family." The council added that laws banning incest are an "unacceptable intrusion" into sexual rights, according to The Telegraph.

The statement comes after German courts ruled that a brother and sister in Saxony, who had been living as partners and had four children together, should live apart "to protect their children from the consequences of their relationship," The Telegraph notes. The couple had grown up in separate homes and met when the brother was an adult and the sister was 16. The brother, identified as Patrick S., was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

The Telegraph cites a study by the Max Planck Institute that found two to four percent of Germans have had "incestuous experiences." But even though the German Ethics Council may want to overturn anti-incest laws, a spokesperson for the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel's ruling party, said such an action from the German government was unlikely.