Incest Map of Europe: What do the Laws Say?
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 means that sex between immediate family members and blood relatives is against the law within the UK. However, you’ll be surprised to find that this isn’t that case all across Europe with many other European countries having varying laws surrounding the matter.
This map created by Delight Counselling shows which European countries incest is still technically legal in as well as those that have now introduced laws to prohibit such relationships.
In recent days, laws surrounding incest have been brought up and questioned after accusations against political commentator, Oliver Duhamel. The political commentator has been accused by his step-daughter of having abused her twin brother over 30 years ago.
This has launched a huge online campaign featuring the hashtag #MeTooInceste lead by ‘NousToutes’, an organisation battling sexual violence in France. The online campaign has since collected more than 100,000 tweeted responses and climbing since it was introduced as more and more people stand up against outdated laws surrounding incest.
The laws surrounding incest and consent within France are complex. due to the fact that in order to prove charge of rape or sexual assault – including those of a child – it is currently necessary to prove that violence, surprise or coercion were used. According to Dr Salmona, if the perpetrator is much older than the victim it can be considered coercion but it isn’t automatically viewed this way. Legally speaking, this technically means that a child as young as 12 can be considered to have consented to sex with an adult.
A commission to look at the laws surrounding incest was already running but was not due to conclude until 2023. With these recent events many people are calling on these laws to be looked at much sooner.
|Country||Legal/Illegal||Laws regarding Incest|
|Albania||Illegal||In Albania, sexual intercourse between parent and offspring, brother and sister, or other persons in direct gender with one another, or between persons who have custodial or adoptive relationship among themselves and is punishable with up to 5 years' imprisonment.|
|Andorra||Illegal||Anyone who has sex with a person over the age of fourteen and under eighteen years of age by taking advantage of a situation of superiority must be punished with a prison sentence of three months to three years. If the perpetrator is an ascendant, descendant or brother or sister of the victim or a person exercising de facto or de jure family authority over it or if the victim is particularly vulnerable because of his age, illness or situation, the penalty should be imposed in its upper half.|
|Austria||Illegal||In Austria, incest between lineal ancestors and descendants, as well as between full-siblings is prohibited. Punishable by up to 3 years in prison.|
|Belarus||No Data||No Data|
|Belgium||Legal||Under the 1810 penal code - promulgated by Napeleon I - when incest laws in France were abolished, so were those in Belgium. Laws have not since been reinstated in Belgium to outlaw incest between siblings.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Illegal||Sexual Intercourse or sex acts tantamount to sexual intercourse with a lineal relative or a sibling shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment for between 6 months and 2 years. Whosoever commits these offences with a juvenile will be subject to betwen 1-5 years' imprisonment and those who commit incest with a child will be punished by imprisonment for between 2-10 years.|
|Bulgaria||Illegal||Sexual intercourse between relatives in ascending and descending line, between brothers and sisters, and between adopters and adopted persons shall be punished by deprivation of liberty for up to three years.|
|Croatia||Illegal||Whoever engages in sexual intercourse or sexual acts with a relative by blood in direct line, a brother os sister, half-brother or half-sister, or by adoption shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 1 year. If one person was a minor at the time, they will not be punished.|
|Czech Republic||Illegal||In Czech Republic, under Section 188 of Czech Criminal code, incest between lineal ancestors, desendants and siblings is prohibited. Punishable by up to 3 years in prison.|
|Denmark||Illegal||In Denmark, incest is seen as sex between lineal ancestors and descendants and between full siblings. Sex with a descendant is punishable with up to 6 years in prison and sex between siblings is punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment.|
|Estonia||Illegal||In Estonia, sexual intercourse or commission of another act of sexual nature by a parent, person holding parental rights or grandparent with a child or grandchild is punishable by 2-8 years in prison.|
|Finland||Illegal||In Finland, sexual acts between one's full sibling (but not half-siblings), ancestors or descendants are punishable by a fine and up to 2 years prison time for "sexual acts between close relatives". However, no punishment is given to a person who is under 18 years old when performing a sexual act with a parent or grandparent or if the person was forced or illegally persuaded to perform the sexual act. Marriage between siblings, half-siblings, ancestors or descendants is forbidden.|
|France||Legal||Under the 1810 penal code - promulgated by Napeleon I - incest laws in France were abolished. However, in Jan 2010, France reinstated laws against incest. These new laws define incest as "rape or sexual abuse of a minor" by a relative or any other person having lawful or de facto authority over the victim. Incest between consenting adults is not prohibited.|
|Germany||Illegal||In Germany, incest is legally defined as vaginal intercourse between lineal ancestors and descendants (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and their children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren) and between full or half-siblings. The penalty for this is up to 3 years of prison. Incest between relatives who are minors at the time of offence is not punishable but remains a crime, therefore aiding or abetting incest between related minors is punishable. The same rules apply and prohibit marriage between aforementioned relatives.|
|Greece||Illegal||According to Article 345 of the Greek Penal Code, incestuous relations are prohibited between relatives of both ascending and descending line, and between half and full siblings, and imposes for the acsending relatives (e.g. father, uncle grandfather etc.) at least 10 years in prison if the descendant is under 15 years old, imprisonment if the descendant is 15 but not yet 18, and a maximum of 2 years' if 18 years or older. For the descending relative (child, nephew etc.) a maximum of 2 years' imprisonment & for half or full-siblings a maximum of 2 years' imprisonment. Paragraph 2 of Article 345 Penal Code also states that if the descending relative and the half or full siblings were under 18 years old, they might be cleared of any charge.|
|Hungary||Legal (Minors)||In Hungary, incest with a relative in direct line is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years. Any person who commits an incestious relationship with his or her half sibling shall be punished for a misdemeanor with imprisonment not exceeding 2 years. A descendant shall not be punished for the criminal offence if under the age of 18 at the time of offence.|
|Iceland||Illegal||Acording to article 200 of the Icelandic Penal Code incestous relations between relatives of both ascending and descending linen and between half and full-siblings is prohibited. For the ascending relative (father, grandfather etc.) they could face up to a maximum of 12 years in prison if the descending relative is between 15 and 17 years old, imprisonment for up to 8 years if the descending relative is 18 or older.. Siblings face a maximum 4 years' imprisonment, and if the step or full siblings were under 18 they may be cleared of charges.|
|Italy||Legal (If it doesn't provoke a public scandal)||According to Article 564 of the Penal code, incest is illegal in Italy if it provokes a public scandal and is punishable by between 2 - 8 years' imprisonment, with the option for further years for the older person if the other person was underage.|
|Lativa||Legal||In Latvia, incest is not criminally prohibited except as part of the general protection of adolescents from sexual abuse.|
|Liechtenstein||Illegal||Any person who engages in sexual intercourse or acts equivalent to sexual intercourse with another person related in direct line shall be punished with imprisonment of up to one year. Any person who seduces another person related in the descending line to engage in sexual intercourse or in a sexual act equivalent to sexual intercourse shall be punished with imprisonment of up to three years. If the two are brother and sister, its punishable by imprisonment up to 6 months. Any person who, when the act is committed, has not yet reached the age of eighteen shall not be punished for incest, if such person has been seduced to commit the act.|
|Lithuania||Legal (For Consenting Adults)||In Lithuania, the criminal code does not explicitly foresee a criminal punishment for incest between adults, however it does mention that "A father, mother, guardian, custodian or another lawful representative of a child or person holding statutory powers in respect of a minor who has sexual intercourse or otherwise satisfies sexual desires with that minor, in the absence of characteristics of a rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse, shall be punished by a fine, restriction of liberty, arrest or by a custodial sentence for a term of up to six years.". Making it punishable for incest between a parent and a child or for persons of similar standing.|
|Luxembourg||Legal||Along with France and Belgium, under the 1810 penal code incest laws in Luxembourg were also abolished. Similarly to Belgium, laws have not since been reinstated to outlaw incest between siblings.|
|Malta||No Data||No Data|
|Moldova||Illegal||Sexual relationships between relatives on a straight line up to the third degree, as well as between relatives on the collateral line (brothers & sisters), is punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years.|
|Monaco||No Data||No Data|
|Montenegro||Illegal||An adult who performs sexual intercourse or another sexual act of equivalent nature over a minor direct blood relative or over a minor brother or sister shall be punished by a prison sentence for a term from six months to five years|
|Netherlands||Legal||In Netherlands, consensual incest between adults is legal, however marriage between ancestors and descendants or between siblings is prohibited. However, the Minister of Justice may grant dispensation in the case of siblings by adoption. Marriage is also forbidden between blood relations of the third and fourth degree (aunt/uncle-niece/nephew & double first cousins), unless both partners have signed a declaration of consent.|
|North Macedonia||Illegal||Whoever commits sexual assault against a relative by blood in direct line or a brother, i.e. sister, shall be sentenced to imprisonment of five to ten years. If the crime is committed against a child who has not turned 14, the offender shall be sentenced to imprisonment of minimum ten years.|
|Norway||Illegal||In Norway, it's illegal to engage in incest, which is defined as intercourse between ancestors and descendants, as well as siblings and even step-family. It is punishable for up to 5 years' in prison.|
|Poland||Illegal||Defined in Article 201 of the Penal Code, incest in Poland is defined as ancestors, descendants, guardians, ward, brother, or sister, and is punishable by imprisonment for no less than 3 months and no more than 5 years.|
|Portugal||Legal||Under Portugese laws, incest is not specifically prohibited.|
|Republic of Ireland||Legal (Same Sex)||Incest is illegal in the Republic of Ireland under the Punishment of Incest Act 1908. It is illegal for a male to have sexual intercourse with his granddaughter, mother, daughter, sister or half-sister. it is also illegal for a female (over 16) to have sexual relations with her grandfather, father, son, brother or half brother. The act does not refer to other familial relationships such as garndson-grandmother or same-sex relations. Prior to the amendment of the 1908 Act in 2019, incest was punishable by up to 7 years' imprisonment for a female and up to life imprisonment for a male. The Criminal Law Act 2019 amended the Act of 1908 to provide for a maximum term of 10 years' imprisonment for both males and females.|
|Romania||Illegal||According to the Penal Code in Romania, incest is defined as "consensual sexual relations between lineal relatives or between siblings" and is punished by from 1 - 5 years in prison.|
|Russia||Legal||In Russia, consensual sex between adults, including incest, is not a crime. However, under the Family Code of Russia, persons who are related lineally, siblings, half-siblings, and step-parents and a step-child may not marry.|
|San Marino||No Data||No Data|
|Serbia||Illegal||An adult who engages in sexual intercourse or an act of equal magnitude with an underage relative by blood, or an underage sibling, shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years.|
|Slovakia||Illegal||Any person who has intercourse with a relative in the first degree or with a sibling shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to two years. The offender shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one to five years if he commits the offence referred to in paragraph 1 against a protected person.|
|Slovenia||Legal||In Slovenia, incest is not criminally prohibited unless one person is a minor. Any person who has sexual relations with a blood relation minor is pubished with up to 2 years in prison.|
|Spain||Legal||Consensual incest between adults is legal in Spain.|
|Sweden||Illegal||Incest with a descendant or full-sibling is prohibited by law in Sweden, however, a half-sibling may marry with special approval from the government.|
|Switzerland||Illegal||According to Article 213 of the Swiss Penal Code, incest is prohibited. Intercourse between siblings or other persons related by blood in direct line is punishable by up to 3 years' imprisonment. In 2010, the federal government proposed changing this, arguing that in the few cases where persons were convicted of incest (there has been 3 occassions since 1984), other sexual crimes were also committed such as child sexual abuse.|
|Ukraine||Illegal||Under Article 155, “sexual intercourse with a sexually immature person” might be punishable for a maximum of three years of imprisonment, while incest is punishable for three to five years of imprisonment. Article 156 provides slightly lighter punishments for “debauchery of minors”. Both articles provide aggravating circumstances for acts committed by parents or surrogate parents.|
|United Kingdom||Illegal||In the United Kingdom, sex with an adult who is related as a parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, aunt, uncle, neice or nephew, is illegal. In England and Wales, this is against the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which effectively replaced the offence of incest with two new wider groups of offences: familial child sex offences and sex with an adult relative, this was done in order to protect the rights of people, so as to avoid potential violation. These laws still outlaw consensual sexual relations between family members, even if they consent and are fully willing. In Northern Ireland similar offences are against the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.|