Patrick Stuebing was adopted as an infant, met his biological sister when he was 24 and she was 16, and started a relationship with her that resulted in four children. In 2008, Stuebing was convicted of incest, and went to prison for three years. He's been fighting the anti-incest law and his conviction ever since, and after reviewing his case, Germany's national ethics council is on his side. In a statement today, the German Ethics Council officially recommended that consensual incest between siblings be legalized, the Independent reports. In its statement, the council noted that sibling incest is rare in the West, but those who engage in it "feel their fundamental freedoms have been violated and are forced into secrecy or to deny their love" if they don't want to face punishment.
Thus, the incest ban puts these couples "in a tragic situation," the statement says, adding that in the council's opinion, "it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo." As for the possibility that any children would be negatively affected—two of Stuebing's are disabled, but it's not clear whether the incest is the cause—that "abstract" concern does not carry as much weight as an adult's "fundamental right ... to sexual self-determination," the council said. Its recommendation was based on extensive research, the Telegraph reports, and the statement also pointed out that others who are genetically predisposed to having children with health problems are not banned from procreating. A spokesperson for the ruling party, however, said the government is unlikely to accept the recommendation.