Old debate about Germany’s incest law passed off as recent

Viral posts claim German ethics council has called for incest between siblings to be legalised

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Claim: The German national ethics council has called for incest between siblings to be legalised by the government.

Fact: The Ethics Council recommended that section 173 of the German criminal code that criminalises incest between siblings be repealed on 24 September 2014 but incest between siblings was never legalised in Germany. The viral posts pass this off as recent but the news is eight years old.

Fact or Fiction?

On 12 December 2022, Twitter user Abu Hafsah shared a screenshot of an article with the headline, “German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government.”

This is what happens when you remove Allah from your morality!!!,” his tweet reads.

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading. The Twitter user has passed off this news about the Ethics Council calling for de-criminalising incest between siblings in Germany as recent. 

However, the article he shared was published by The Independent on 24 September 2014.

The Independent’s report states that a majority of council members voted in favour of repealing section 173 of the criminal code after examining the case of a brother and sister from Germany who have four children together. Patrick Stuebing and Susan Karolewski did not know each other as children until the former traced his family as an adult in his 20s. 

According to section 173 of the German criminal code, sexual relations between siblings or between parents and their children is forbidden.

It states the following about sexual intercourse between relatives: 

(1) Whoever has sexual intercourse with a descendant by blood incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine.

(2) Whoever has sexual intercourse with a blood relative in the ascending line incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine; this also applies if the familial relationship has ceased to exist. Natural siblings who have sexual intercourse with each other incur the same penalty.

(3) Descendants and siblings do not incur a penalty under this provision if they were under 18 years of age at the time of the act.

Soch Fact Check reviewed the latest news and found no relevant information regarding the Ethics Council’s statement about incest between siblings has been reported recently. However, we found Daily Mail carried a report in May 2022 about Stuebing continuing his fight to make incest legal.

Stuebing was convicted for his sexual relationship with his sister in 2008. He lost both of his appeals — in the German Federal Constitutional Court in 2008 and the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 — against his conviction.

As of now, incest between siblings is still illegal under German law.

Virality:

Soch Fact Check searched Facebook with the search term “German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government” and found three posts carrying the claim. It was shared here, here and here.

Abu Hafsa’s tweet received 4,942 likes, 1,054 retweets and 190 quote tweets. He is followed by 5,635 people on the microblogging site. 

On Twitter, it was shared here and here

Conclusion: German national ethics council has not recently called for the government to legalise incest between siblings. The screenshots doing the rounds on social media are from a 2014 article published by The Independent.

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