Romania to Legalize Consensual Adult Incest: Wrong-Headed or Practical?

March 23, 2009

(ChattahBox)– Romania’s Justice Ministry is proposing decriminalizing incest between consenting adults, a move that is angering many in this ancient country, including victims of incest and the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Justice Ministry made this announcement as part of its nation-wide modernizing effort to reform its archaic criminal code, to move this ancient country into the twenty first century. Romania, as a newly minted member (two-years) of the European Union, seeks to align its laws with other European Nations, such as Spain, France and Portugal, which don’t treat adult, consensual incest as a crime. Keeping up with the neighbors in this case doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Romania’s present laws punish people who engage in adult consensual incest with up to seven years in prison. Romania defines incest as sexual relations between close family members who can’t legally marry. The Justice Ministry is defending its position to critics as a practical measure and is not supporting incest. The Ministry contends that not all moral crimes should be made a punishable crime. Many Romanian legal experts believe individuals who engage in incest need psychological help and that punishing them, as criminals won’t help the problem.

Not all European nations see things like Romania. Germany recently sent a man to prison for engaging in adult consensual incest with his sister and fathering four children. The horrific Austrian trial of Josef Fritzl, who raped and held his daughter captive for 24 years, fathering seven children, recently shed the light on the shocking nature of incest. Austria bans all forms of incest. The United States bans adult consensual incest in all 50 states, although as a practical matter, some states do not impose jail time or other criminal penalties.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Orthodox Church, of which nearly 90 percent of Romanians belong, is strongly opposed to decriminalizing incest, believing it will undermine the sacred family institution and cause psychological harm and confusion in families. The Vatican outright bans all types of incest.

Medical experts point to another issue; that of genetic disorders affecting children born of incest. Children conceived from close biological parents face a whole host of medical problems resulting from disorders of inherited recessive genes. Genetic experts say that full siblings share 50 percent of their genes, increasing the probability of passing along rare, sometimes devastating recessive genetic disorders to their children.

Most Romanians believe incest is morally wrong, but they differ on whether adult consensual incest should be made a crime. This issue will continue to be debated in Romania and elsewhere as the Justice Ministry seeks to modernize its criminal code. However, many wonder if this is instead a step backwards.



One Response to “Romania to Legalize Consensual Adult Incest: Wrong-Headed or Practical?”

  1. john on March 27th, 2009 2:53 pm

    If you think that having sexual affairs with your relatives is an ancient issue , I wish you long life in the 21st century to have enough time to get in bed with all your family – mother, sister, cousins and so on !

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