The brother and sister who have been a couple for 20 years…and they have a child

Siblings Tom and Lena fell in love in their teens and even had a daughter together

Austrian siblings Tom and Lena (not their real names) began a secret romance in
their teens and have been together for 20 years.

Now Tom has opened up in an interview posted on Vice and revealed he fell for
Lena at a young age.

He said: “I started getting real feelings for her when we both entered
puberty.

“She was blossoming. Sometimes I would watch her getting dressed in her
room and always felt ashamed of myself afterwards.”

He told himself that it was natural curiosity about the female body but when
Lena started dating at17, he was consumed with jealousy.

He said: “That was hell for me. I hated each one of her boyfriend’s guts.
Lena used to cry because I wouldn’t get on with them. Today, I know that it
was pure jealousy.”

But after a boyfriend cheated on Lena, the relationship reached the next
level.

Upset, Lena came into Tom’s bedroom sobbing and Tom fetched a bottle of wine
to cheer her up.

After several glasses, Lena made the first move.

Tom recalled: “I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. She
looked up at me and asked why other men can’t be more like me.”

Lena kissed him but Tom pushed her away saying, “What the hell are we
doing?”

Lena started to cry.

In the days following the kiss, Tom began to re-examine their relationship.

He said: “It became clear to me that Lena and I were always flirting.

“I always used to take it as a joke but it couldn’t have been. All these
strange situations suddenly became crystal clear.”

He was amazed when he found out that, while he was watching Lena dress, she
was fully aware he was there and used to leave the door open on purpose.

He added: “I was relieved to find out she felt the same about me.

“We could be happy together. But of course that was a kind of utopia. In
reality, our love was a curse—it still is.”

Incest is illegal in most countries and, in Austria, where the couple grew up,
it can result in six months in prison.

So when Tom slept with Lena, the couple were breaking Paragraph 211 of
Austrian law.

Tom said: “It was then I realised we’re criminals. But Paragraph 211
punishes consenting adults for entering relationships with other adults.
We’re not forcing each other into anything.”

For years the couple were forced to keep their romance secret.

“For a long time, we thought that we were sick,” admits Tom. “What kind
of person is in love with his sister?

“It’s unbelievable what a taboo can do to your feelings of self-worth.”

Tom became so depressed that he tried to take his own life with an overdose of
sleeping tablets, but Lena found him in time.

After that, the pair decided to move away from the village and set up home in
Germany, where they pretended to be a married couple.

When Lena gave birth to their daughter, Tom said, she kept his name off the
birth certificate,

“We didn’t want to risk anything. There’s no way I’ll let them put me in
prison and take me away from my family.”

Not surprisingly, Tom is fierce critic of the anti-incest laws and the taboo
that surrounds their love.

“Since when is disgust a reason to imprison others?” he said. “Nobody
would make someone serve time for having sex with a cake, just because
someone else found it disgusting.”

He rejects the argument that siblings should not have children because of the
risk of abnormality.

Children born to closely related couples are more likely to have certain kinds
of genetic conditions, but according to the Genetic Alliance, a UK-based
group that works to improve the lives of people with genetic conditions, “most
related couples have healthy children”.

Tom reasoned: “I would understand it if you told me, ‘You are going to
prison because you are endangering your child.

“But my child is healthy and my wife and I love each other voluntarily.
Therefore all good reasons for punishment do not apply.”

But he admits he is frightened the family secret might come out and ruin the
couple’s new life.

He added: “I’m scared of people finding me disgusting.

“There’s nothing that I haven’t heard before. People have called me a
desecrator, sister-fucker, or simply retarded. And all that’s come out of
the mouths of people who were at one time my friends.

“Even if society won’t recognize us, we exist and there are more of us than
you think.”

When should incest between consenting adults be allowed and when should it not be allowed?

It should always be allowed between consenting adults. But that doesn’t mean it is always a good idea.

CONSENSUAL incest is not wrong. (Abuse victims: being abused by a relative does not make it wrong for others to have consensual incest, any more than rape by a stranger makes all sex wrong. Sex and assault/molestation are two different things.) An aversion became common in humans that aided in population growth as one disease couldn’t wipe out the human race. That’s not a problem anymore.

Consensual incest is very common. You know people who have been involved, whether you know it or not.

There is no rational reason for keeping laws or taboos against consensual
incest that is consistently applied to other relationships. Personal disgust or religion is only a reason why one person would not want to personally engage in what I call consanguinamory, not why someone else shouldn’t do it. An adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with ANY consenting adults. Youthful experimentation between close relatives close in age is not uncommon, and there are more people than you’d think out there who are in lifelong healthy, happy relationships with a close relative. It isn’t for everyone, but we’re not all going to want to have each others’ love lives, now are we? If someone thinks YOUR love life is disgusting, should you be thrown in prison?

Some people try to justify their prejudice against consanguineous sex and
marriage by being part-time eugenicists and saying that such relationships inevitably lead to “mutant” or “deformed” babies. This argument can be refuted on several fronts.

1. Some consanguineous relationships involve only people of the same gender.

2. Not all mixed-gender relationships birth biological children.

3. Most births to consanguineous parents do not produce children with significant birth defects or other genetic problems; while births to other parents do sometimes have birth defects.

4. We don’t prevent other people from marrying or deny them their reproductive rights based on increased odds of passing along a genetic problem or inherited disease.

It is true that in general, children born to consanguineous parents have an increased chance of these problems than those born to nonconsanguineous parents, but the odds are still minimal. Unless someone is willing to deny reproductive rights and medical privacy to others and force everyone to take genetic tests and bar carriers and the congenitally disabled and women over 35 from having children, then equal protection  principles prevent this from being a justification to bar this freedom of association and freedom to marry.

Some say “Your sibling should not be your lover.” That is not a reason. It begs the question. Many people have many relationships that have more than one aspect. Some women say their sister is their best friend. Why can’t their sister be a wife, too?

Some say “There is a power differential.” This applies least of all to siblings or cousins who are close in age, but even where the power  differential exists, it is not a justification for denying this freedom  to sex or to marry. There is a power differential in just about any  relationship, sometimes an enormous power differential. To question if  consent is truly possible in these cases is insulting and demeaning.

Some say “There are so many people outside of your family.” There are plenty of people within one’s own race, too, but that is no reason to ban interracial marriage. So, this isn’t a good reason either. Let consenting adults love each other the way they want!

Why does Israel permit(ted) incest

Why does Israel permit(ted) incest???

The general prohibition against incest with one’s “near of kin” (Lev. 18:6) has been held to be limited to the following degrees of consanguinity: parents (18:7); mother-in-law (20:14); stepmother (18:8); sister and half sister (18:9) (but not a stepsister as the Karaites maintained); granddaughter (18:10); aunt (18:12–13); wife of father’s brother (18:14); daughter-in-law (18:15); brother’s wife (18:16); stepdaughter and step granddaughter (18:17); and wife’s sister during the lifetime of the former (18:18). This list is exhaustive and may not be added to by analogies (Sifra, Aḥarei-Mot 13:15), since creation of any criminal offense requires the express pronouncement both ofthe conduct prohibited and the resulting punishment (see *Penal Law; cf. Ker. 3a; Sanh. 74a). A list of another 20 degrees of consanguinity was later drawn up, however, by way of analogy – albeit not to create additional criminal offenses, but as additional prohibitions of intercourse and impediments to *marriage (Yev. 21a; Maim. Yad, Ishut 1:6).

The punishment for the various offenses of incest varies – while biblical law prescribed death by burning for incest with one’s mother-in-law (Lev. 20:14), it did not prescribe any particular mode of execution for other capital offenses of incest (Lev. 20:11, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21), some of which were clearly to be visited with *divine punishment (*karet; Lev. 20:17, 20, 21). In talmudic law, the offenses of incest were eventually classified as follows:

(1) those punishable with death by stoning – incest with mother, stepmother daughter-in-law (Sanh. 7:4);

(2) those punishable with death by burning – incest with stepdaughter, stepgranddaughter, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, daughter, and granddaughter (Sanh. 9:1); and

(3) all other offenses of incest to be punishable with karet or *flogging (Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:4–7). As several of the offenses are threatened with both judicial and divine punishment (e.g., incest with mother and stepmother; Ker. 1:1), the rule was evolved that capital punishment would be imposed judicially only where the offense had been committed after previous warning that it was punishable and in the presence of witnesses; while divine punishment was deemed to apply where the offense had been committed without such previous warning and without witnesses being available (Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:2–3). Flogging came to be administered not only by way of punishment for such incestuous acts as had been made criminal offenses, but also by way of admonition and rebuke (makkat mardut), for incestuous acts which were not criminal (Maim. ibid. 2:8). Occasionally, capital offenses were reduced to offenses punishable with flogging, as in the case of incest with one’s wife’s near relations after her death (ibid.)

Incest is a capital offense only where sexual intercourse has taken place (Shab. 13a), although complete penetration is not a required element (Maim. ibid. 1:10); but the prohibition to come near anyone of one’s “near of kin” was interpreted to render any bodily proximity, within the prohibited degrees of kinship, punishable with flogging (Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 21:1) – except kissing or embracing one’s mother, daughter, sister, or aunt, or such other relatives who do not normally arouse the sexual urge (ibid., 21:6; and see *Sexual Offenses). The offense of incest is committed by the female as well as by the male participant (Yev. 84b; TJ, Sanh. 7, 9, 25a; Ker. 2:4; Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:1); but where the offense is committed upon an infant or upon a person asleep or by a person unaware of the incestuous relationship, only the initiator of the act is punishable (Ker. 2:6).

Each single act of sexual intercourse amounts to a complete commission of the offense (Maim. ibid. 3:12). The turpitude of this kind of offense is stressed in the Bible by such epithets as “wickedness” (zimmah, Lev. 20:14; Ezek. 22, 11), “corruption” (tevel, Lev. 20:12), “shame” (ḥesed, Lev. 20:17), and “impurity” (niddah, Lev. 20:21). Incest is one of the three cardinal offenses (together with murder and idolatry) which a man may not commit even in order to save himself from certain death (Sanh. 74a; Yad, Yesodei ha-Torah 5:2); nor in order to save another person’s life (Tosef. Shab. 15:17); nor can there be any justification for its commission on any medical grounds (TJ, Shab. 14:4, 14d; Pes. 25a). Opinions are divided among medieval scholars as to whether a woman, as well as a man, must choose to die rather than commit incest. Some hold that a woman, being the passive partner, may submit to incest rather than be killed (Rashi to Yoma 82a; Isserles, YD 157:1 and cf. Tos. to Av. Zar. 54a), while others maintain that she should prefer death (ET, 6 (1954), 110). It is also maintained that the female’s enjoyment is tantamount to the male’s action (Tos. BK 32a), constituting “an overt act” for which her punishment is flogging.

In the State of Israel there is no statutory prohibition against incest as such, but it is an offense, punishable with five years’ imprisonment, for anyone to have sexual intercourse with an unmarried girl below the age of 21 who is his or his wife’s descendant, or his ward, or who has been entrusted to him for education or supervision (Section 155, Criminal Code Ordinance, 1936). Apart from this particular provision, it would seem that sexual intercourse within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity described above is, indeed, left to divine punishment.