(Germany) - Patrick and Susan are in love. Their love has produced four children. Their love is also illegal in Germany because Patrick and Susan are brother and sister.
"People harass us all the time. Call us the incest couple. They have no idea who we really are or how it all happened," Patrick says.
"I love you," the writing on this pillow says and that love has resulted in big legal problems. Patrick spent more than two years in jail for sleeping with his sister.
To try to prevent a return to jail, Patrick and Susan are currently embroiled in a court struggle that has captivated Germany. The couple is trying to get their relationship legalized.
Paragraph 173 of German criminal law code forbids siblings from having sexual intercourse. Punishable by up to two years in jail, but the couple says this law is discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional."
Many other European countries long ago lifted bans on incestuous sex and Dr. Endrik Wilhelm wants to take Patrick and Susan’s case to Germany’s highest court.
According to Dr. Wilhelm, "incest is not socially harmful and only socially harmful behavior may be punished and no government is allowed to punish behavior that is not harmful to society."
But experts like Professor Juergen Kunze, a professor for human genetics, say children from incestuous relationships are often born with disabilities.
"Only 50% of the children are healthy, 20% have brain damage, and the rest are born also with massive physical disabilities and many die," says Dr. Kunze.
The first two of Patrick and Susan’s children were born with disabilities, legal documents say, though it is not known whether these disabilities are related to incest. Youth welfare services have taken all but one of their 4 children away from them.
"The first child just kind of happened. Then they took the second one away from us. So we wanted to have another one, because we'd already lost so much," Patrick says.
Patrick and Susan didn't know of each other's existence until they were teens. Foster parents raised Patrick. Later he found his real mother and his sister. After their mother died, the two continued to live together and ended up falling in love. Now, they say, all they want is to live like a normal family.
"We really love each other a lot, and we never want to be without each other again. We're already living like a small happy family," Patrick says.
Either way, the couple says they hope German society will one day accept that their love is just as real and just as good as any other.