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New York parent sues State for the right to marry their own child

A New York parent who wants to marry their own adult offspring is suing the state to overturn laws that ban incest, arguing that their “individual autonomy” is being infringed.

According to court papers, as reported by the New York Post, the parent has requested to remain anonymous, because they are aware that their request is “an action that a large segment of society views as morally, socially and biologically repugnant.” As a result, the legal papers do not identify the sex or age of the parent or child.

As it stands, incest is a third-degree felony in New York, and is punishable by up to four years in prison.

“Through the enduring bond of marriage, two persons, whatever relationship they might otherwise have with one another, can find a greater level of expression, intimacy and spirituality,” the parent argues told the Manhattan federal court.

“The proposed spouses are adults…The proposed spouses are biological parent and child. The proposed spouses are unable to procreate together,” one court filing says.

In 2014 an appeals court in New York unanimously agreed to allow one woman to marry her mother’s half-brother on the basis that the genetic relationship was the equivalent of a first cousin. However, the ruling noted the “almost universal horror” with which most people view parent-child marriage.

Academics in recent years have questioned whether Ireland’s laws surrounding incest are too restrictive, such as NUIG law lecturer, Tom O’Malley, who was a member of the government’s Law Reform Comission.

In one 2019 Irish Times article quoted O’Malley as saying “Consenting intercourse between an adult brother and sister, even if there is no risk of pregnancy, is a crime. “One might question if such conduct should be criminal.””

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