Three European Union nations — France, Spain and Portugal — do not prosecute consenting adults for incest, and Romania is considering following suit. (…)
Laws exempting parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters from prosecution for incestuous acts if they are not forced upon adult family members are decades old in France, Spain and Portugal.
In Romania, decriminalizing incest among consenting adults is being considered as part of a wide range of reforms to the country’s criminal code. No date has been set yet for a parliament vote on the bill, and opposition to the proposal is fervent even among some lawmakers in the ruling coalition.
Currently all forms of incest in Romania are punishable by up to seven years in prison. But Romania’s Justice Ministry suggests the new legislation would move the country — which joined the European Union two years ago — closer legally to some other EU members.
“Not everything that is immoral has to be illegal,” said Justice Ministry legal expert Valerian Cioclei. “We cannot help these people by turning them into criminals and punishing them.”
I’m extremely surprised that this is even being considered. I’m about as liberal as they come, but not even I would be willing to agitate too strongly for legalization. I oppose criminalizing victimless activities unreservedly, but given that political debate is often seen as supporting or condemning particular behaviours or groups – i.e. signalling what sort of community you would like to live in – a prohibition on incest wouldn’t be the highest on my list of things to publicly protest. It took concerted political action by the gay activist community to repeal homophobic laws in the West. Who is it that’s standing up for people most of us, at least at the level of gut-reaction, view as utterly depraved. I’m pretty sure nobody will be standing up and saying “I like to have sex with my sister, and there’s nothing wrong with that” as gay people did in the ’70s and ’80s.
The whole thing seems a little at odds with how politics normally works. There is a strong instinctive bigotry against an activity among the vast majority of people. Nobody is seriously challenging that bigtory. The activity is (or may be, at least) legalized. Huh?