While the practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky), is it legal to wed a close relative such as a first cousin?
When I was a young girl living in Hong Kong, my parents told me that I was allowed to marry my first cousin so long as they don't share the same surname.
The Act, last amended on October 21, 2016, states:23.2 — Marriages of parties within a prohibited relationship are marriages: Between a person and an ancestor or descendant of the person; or Between a brother and sister (whether of the whole blood or the half-blood) Currently, the Act states marriage is "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life".
The Federal Government announced this week that it would gauge public sentiment on same-sex marriage via a voluntary postal plebiscite.
Some communities in Australia have a much higher rate of first cousins marrying than others, believing there are cultural, extended family, social, religious and financial benefits in the practice.
Now you might be under the impression that marriage to a first cousin may be akin to gene pool genocide given that any child produced from the union would be prone to birth defects.
Today, first cousins may not marry in AR, DE, IA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TX, WA and WV.
Through a combination of old prejudices and present-day conventional wisdom about inherited birth defects, first cousin marriage is seen by many as a little too close for comfort, as well as a bad idea if you want children.
But a large-scale study done by UK researchers in 2013 showed that while babies born to couples that are related increases the rate of babies born with health problems, the chances are smaller than people would think.
The risk of defects is about the same as women having babies when they're over 34, according to the study.
Banning Cousin Marriages While there have been instances of the banning of marriage between cousins at various points through history, such as the Roman Catholics banning the practice for a time starting with the Council of Agde in 506 AD, for the most part marriage among cousins has been popular as long as people have been getting married.
In fact, it is estimated that as many as 80% of the marriages in human history have been between first or second cousins.