German incest couple lose rights ruling


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The Independent Online

A brother and sister who had an incestous relationship did not have their privacy violated by a German court the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has said.

Patrick Stuebing from Leipzig had argued that he and his sister had the right to a family life, but the ECHR today ruled that Germany was entitled to ban incest.

The European court, based in eastern Strasbourg, said German courts didn't violate the rights of Stuebing, who was sentenced to 14 months in prison in 2005. He is now free.

Stuebing and Susan Karolewski, have had four children together. Two of the children are described as disabled.

The case had led to calls for Germany to change the laws on consensual sexual relations between adult relatives in order to no longer make them illegal.

France, Turkey, Japan and Brazil have all amended their laws on relationships between adult family members.

The ECHR said today that there was not enough evidence to suggest a possible trend towards decriminaliastion of such relationships.

The European Court also said the German judges did not convict Susan Karolewski because she has a personality disorder and was "only partially liable" for her actions.

Stuebing, who was born in 1976, was placed in a children's home at age three and then adopted by a foster family for four years.

He did not meet his natural sister, Susan Karolewski, until he tracked down his family as an adult.

There is an increased likelihood of the children from an incestuous relationship having a disability it is claimed. This in part is the reason for such relationships remaining illegal in many countries.

The ECHR said the main basis of punishment for incestuous relationships was “the protection of marriage and the family”, and because it blurs family roles.

It also noted “the risk of significant damage” to children born of such a relationship.

Lawyers for the couple argued, however, that there is also a greater risk when disabled people or older women have children.

When Stuebing's biological mother died in 2000 he tracked down his family and it was then the relationship with his sister began.

From 2001 to 2005, they had four children together.