April 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The European Court of Human Rights has upheld Germany’s anti-incest laws and has affirmed the sentence of a man sent to prison for fathering children with his sister.

The Court concluded that the human rights of Patrick Stuebing were not violated when he was sent to jail for three years in 2005 for his sexual affair with his allegedly psychologically troubled sister Susan Karolewski, whom he had met as an adult after being adopted in early childhood.

The Court cited several justifications for the law’s existence, including “protection of the family” and “self-determination and public health,” which are “set against the background of a common conviction that incest should be subject to criminal liability.”

In response to Patrick Stuebing’s contention that his “right” to sexual self-determination was being infringed by German law, the European Court opined that Germany had sound reasons for such restrictions. It also rejected his argument that anti-incest laws are akin to Nazism because of their alleged eugenic basis, and noted that such laws exist to protect the integrity of the family.

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“The Federal Constitutional Court considered that sexual relationships between siblings could seriously damage family structures and, as a consequence, society as a whole,” the European Court stated in its ruling. “According to the court, criminal liability was further justified by reference to the protection of sexual self-determination. By addressing specific situations arising from the interdependence and closeness of family relationships, section 173 of the Criminal Code could avoid difficulties in the classification of, and defence against, transgressions of sexual self-determination in that context.”

The Court added that it “considers that the above-mentioned aims…appear not to be unreasonable” and that “Under these circumstances, the Court accepts that the applicant’s criminal conviction corresponded to a pressing social need.”

Steubing and Karolewski had four children together, two of whom are disabled. Only one child, a daughter, remains in the custody of Karolewski. The pair began their relationship when Karolweski was only 16, and Steubing was 23. Karolweski was not prosecuted because the German authorities judged that she had a diminished responsibility due to her psychological condition, which they said created a powerful emotional dependency on Steubing.

Judgment was rendered in the case by a seven-judge panel, representing the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Ukraine, Germany, and France. The plaintiff has three months to appeal the decision to the same court before it becomes final.

The ruling continues the mixed record of the Court on social issues. It has previously ruled that abortion, and homosexual “marriage” and adoption are not human rights, and has accepted Italy’s practice of displaying crucifixes in public buildings. However, it has also ruled that suicide is a “human right,” and has attempted to force homosexual inheritance rights on Poland and homosexual parades on Moscow. It has also ruled that Ireland’s constitution permits abortion, an idea rejected by the Irish government.