What are the states where you can marry your siblings?

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In this blog we will explore what are some states in the United states where it is legal to marry your siblings.

We will also explore the phenomenon of sibling incest and the dangerous consequences of sibling incest.

What are the states where you can marry your siblings?

There are no states within the United States where it is legal to marry your sibling. However there are some states where incestual relationships between two consenting siblings is not illegal. 

These states include:

  • Ohio
  • New Jersey 
  • Rhode Island
  • Georgia.

In states like New Jersey and Rhode Island incest is not considered illegal, however, marriage between siblings or family members is not viewed as legal or legitimate under state laws. 

The legality of incest and the legality of incest marriages differe accoridng to the laws fof the country and the states within the country. 

In the US, incest laws prohibited intimate relationships between blood relatives or biological family members. 

In almost all states, except for New Jersey, Rhode Island, ohio and Georgia,  incest is illegal. Even for the states of New Jersey and Rhode Island, marriage between family members is not legalised

For states like Georgua and Ohio, the incest must be between two heterosexual consenting adults who are not sharing a parentchild relationship. 

In the majority of states in the United States, incest is illegal and there are punishments associated with engaging in an incestuous relationshis which vary according to state. 

In the states of New Jersey and Rhode Island, incest between two consenting adults or people beyong the age of consent, is legal. However, neither state permits marriage. 

In Georgia, incest laws are limited to heterosexual intimate relationships that are not parent to child relationships. It also deemed marriage and cohabitation illegal. 

In Ohio, incest is legally allowed provided that one party is not a parental figure to the other party and both are consenting and adults. 

Which countries can you marry your sibling?

In an around the word, the status of incest in terms of legality is generally agreed upon to be morally, ethically, and biologically wrong. 

However there are a few countries that has not yet criminalised incest. It is also to be mentioned that while they might not criminalise incest, the marragie between siblings or family members are not legal recognised. 

So far, here are Twenty two countries around the world have not criminalized incest. For example, In Spain, Argentina, Japan, France, China, and Russia, consensual incest is fully legal. 

However even within these countries, people who are related as siblings, half-siblings, a stepparent, and a stepchild may not marry. 

Is Incest Between Adults a Crime?

Almost all states and countries criminalize incest between family relatives. Incest is more or less universally acknoweldegd as a taboo and a crime. 

Because of the fact that many cases of abuse are caused by the non-consenual relationsgip between adult family memeber and a minor, it is enough grounds to crimialise incest. 

However, there have been motions made in various states in the United states such as New Jersey Law to rethink the law so as to legalise insental relaitonshups between two consenting adults. 

However, most conturies and most states Laws deem cest illegal and a punsihable offences except for a fw countries where incest has not een criminalise. 

In the United states, Incest between adults is a felony, punishable by five years’ to life imprisonment, depending on state law. Along with Prison time, there is also payment of fines for this offence, 

In most cases of Incest against children, the prepatratior is punished just as severely, if not more so, as other cases of child sexual abuse, usually by lengthy prison terms or life in prison.

People who are convicted for incest are also added into the list of sexual perpetrators.

In countries like India, where there is no legally binding laws that punishes incest, the case is often tried as a case of rape and exploitation.

In Afghanistan where incest is illegal, there are no state kaws that punsih people but rather justic is often taken into the hands of Religious groups often punishable by death. 

What are the conditions that laws take into account in terms of the legality of incest?

While the Laws of most countries regarding incest vary according to jurisdiction, the laws themselves that are grounds for conviction depend on various factors such as:

  • Type of sexual activity
  • The nature of the family relationship of the parties involved
  • age and sex of the parties. 

It is these factors that play into account the severity of the punishment that is dealt to perpetrators of the crime as well as whether conviction is passable in these cases. 

Now, another important factor that plays a role in the conditions that curround the legality of incestual relationships is the degree of relationship between the people- usually looking into the degree or percentage of shared DNA. 

This particular degree of relationship is calculated by counting the number of generations back to a common ancestor. 

Most laws prohibit incestual relationships that are of 25% shared DNA or higher. These includes relationships such as:

  • identical twins; 
  • Parent-offspring
  • full siblings
  • 3/4-siblings or sibling-cousins
  • grandparent-grandchild
  • half-siblings
  • aunt/uncle-nephew/niece
  • double first cousins

In 24 states of the United States, cousin marriages are prohibited as well. 

While one might think that relationships of incest that have a lower degree of relations might be okay or legal, most laws make no provision for the rare case of marriage people who has a lower degree or percentage of shared DNA.

Incest laws also include prohibitions in the case there is incenstual relationships between biologically-unrelated individuals, especially where they are legally bunded together as family as in the case of adoption and step-siblings. 

How is incest viewed by society?

Incest is a culturally rejected and even persecuted practice, which in some countries is even illegal, while in others it is tolerated but without any legal recognition of the union through marriage.

In almost all religious codes it is viewed as an immoral, forbidden union and it often curses the offspring. 

The rejection of incest can be understood as a result of human being’s preferences of exogamny over inbreeding as a way to help the species survive and flourish- as a result of biological and social concerns. 

Given that individuals belonging to the same family share a high percentage of their genetic material, incest was considered a union that impoverishes and reduces the genetic variability available for future generations, thus increasing the incidence of hereditary diseases and defects. 

Thus, the preference of exogamy. This particular preference must have been made by observation which then became a cultural custom that later became a question of morality as religious text and beliefs were developed. 

What are the dangerous consequences of Incest?

The consequences of incest are mainly based on social rejection, the emotional or psychological problems they may produce, such as feelings of guilt, etc.

If the relationship between the siblings is non-consensual, there are expectations of psychological distress in the victim. 

It has been observed that most of these sibling incest relationships have one sibling that is 4 years younger and considered the victim who has been groomed by the older sibling. 

The victim in these cases experience negative consequences such as somatic problems, depression, nightmares and anxiety, and depression.

In the case of relations with offspring where it is consensual and there is an offspring involved, there is a risk of mutations and diseases related to it. 

Some of the genetic diseases and medical complications that can arise include:

  • Down syndrome and other delays. Although this is not the only and exclusive cause of mental retardation, a higher rate of this type of disease has been seen in the offspring of very genetically close individuals.
  • Malformations. Similarly, children born with deformations or with dysfunctional bodies are often the result of incest.
  • Haemophilia. This disease that prevents or hinders the correct blood coagulation has been known as “the disease of the kings” because it was frequent among Spanish kings descendants of noble houses of marked inbreeding tendency.
  • Harlequin disease. Called Harlequin Ichthyosis, it is a very rare genetic skin disease that resembles a harlequin costume in newborns: thick, large scales from around the body and are born with the red-eyed, inverted eyelids.

Other than these medical conditions, a person who is in an incestual relationship can struggle with guilt, shame, and face social ostracisation and even persecution if incest is considered illegal in their state.


In this blog we have explored what are some states in the United states where it is legal to marry your siblings.

We have also explorded the phenomenon of sibling incest and the dangerous consequences of sibling incest.

FAQ related to What are the states where you can marry your siblings?

What country can you marry your sibling?

Some countries where incest has not been criminalised are Belgium and Brazil, Japan, Argentina, France etc. 

However the grounds on which sibling marriages are legal or not depends on the state laws.

In what states is it illegal to marry step siblings?

There is no U.S. law that says you cannot do it. It is legal for step siblings in the United States to get married because they are not biologically related. 

However, there might be problems within the marriage itself because of social stigma which might lead to the marriage not being viewed as legitimate by society. 

What states allow incest?

Rhode Island, Ohio, and New Jersey are the only three states in the United States where incest is legal.

In such states, incest is legagl as long as it is betwene two adults who are consenting to the relaitonships as well as that they do not share parent-child relationships.

It has to be noted that while incest might be legal in these states, marriage is by no means seen as legal in these states, meaning that the marriage between tow people who are family and blood related will not be legitimised.

Can a brother and sister produce a child?

Yes, it is possible for a brother and sister to produce a child after they have engaged in sexual intercourse without any form of contraceptives, 

It is also important to note that because brother and sister share ver close genetic composition it is possible that the child that will be born out of this union might suffer from genetic diseases such as:

  • Down syndrome and other developmental delays.
  • Malformations, deformations, and disabilities. 
  • Haemophilia
  • Harlequin disease


Mince-Didier. A. Incest Laws and Criminal Charges. Criminaldefenselawyer. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021. https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/white-collar-crime/incest-laws-criminal-charges.htm

Incest Laws by State 2021. Worldpopulationreview. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021. https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/incest-laws-by-state

Potnis.N. Sex Clinic – Is It Normal To Feel Sexual Attraction To Your Cousin? Nov 21, 2019. Retrieved on 3rd Dec 2021. https://www.bingedaily.in/article/heres-why-amazon-is-supporting-us-govt-to-make-cannabis-legal

Kamaraj.Dealing With The Phobia Of Genetic Sexual Attraction Lybrate. Retrieved on 3rd dec 2021. https://www.lybrate.com/topic/dealing-with-the-phobia-of-genetic-sexual-attraction/5f6bc719f89360816e5cf5c7399a837b

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