Brothers and sisters unite! Literally


It is currently illegal in the United Kingdom for consenting adults who are close family members to have sex. This is absurd; we should legalise incest. Simply put: the state has no right, under any circumstances, to punish two consenting adults for having sex. And thus, to lay it in layman’s terms, I demand the right to screw my mum (or, indeed, my dad).

By far the greyest issue here is that of procreation. If two adults choose to have sex, that’s their own affair, but do they have the right to risk the health of their children? That’s a hefty gamble to take with someone else’s life. As such, there is some justification to the idea that a closely-related couple should be legally prohibited, not from having sex, but from having children.

What is simply unjustifiable is that it is not illegal for people with serious heritable diseases to procreate, which is exactly the same thing. Yet how many of you would be comfortable making it illegal for an epileptic or haemophiliac to have children? That strays dangerously close to eugenics, but if that’s your position, fine. However, you can’t have it both ways: either legalise incestuous procreation, or criminalise procreation for those with hereditary diseases.

But in cases without procreation, the issue could not possibly be more clear-cut: we have no right to put consenting adults in jail for humping.

The sole, single, solitary argument against this is almost painfully bad: “Yuck.” The thought of family members doing it disturbs me. Make it illegal.

The refutation of this argument is reassuringly simple: “Screw you.” (And I mean this very precisely.) What do you or your feelings have to do with it? The Law is not there to prevent you being disgusted. The State is not there to give you a warm, fuzzy sensation inside. The Lord Chief Justice is not a bloody teddy bear. It is not illegal to blaspheme. It is not illegal to make dead baby jokes. And, thank God, it has recently been resolved that a man having sex with another man is also not illegal, no matter how icky a thought that might be to most of you. So why on earth should consensual incest be illegal?

But why, you may ask, does this matter? This is not a personal issue – I am not campaigning to overturn my hypothetical prison sentence for porking the sister I never had, and my mum is not my type (still less my dad). Neither is it a truly pressing human rights issue – there are people in jail, unjustly, because they had sex with consenting relatives, but their cause is considerably less important than, say, the struggle against global poverty.

This issue is simply that of taking morality seriously. We tolerate too many of our society’s injustices. People starve. The greedy are rewarded for their excesses. And that’s because we have this uncanny ability to turn off unpleasant thoughts, especially when they demand that we do what’s right.

But the truth is that morality is deeply, deeply unpleasant. It demands things of us we really, really don’t want. And you know what? Morality is right, and we are wrong. If something is morally unjustifiable, and we know it is morally unjustifiable, it is simply not OK to turn your back on it, even if, especially if, it makes you feel a little squeamish. And consensual incest is a case in point: all our most deeply-held beliefs of personal freedom and an impartial State demand its legalisation; the only thing that stands against them is our complacency and our cowardice.

-David Leon


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