What Is Consanguineous Marriage and Is It a Crime in BC?

December 22nd, 2022
What Is Consanguineous Marriage and Is It a Crime in BC?

Consanguineous marriage is defined as a marital relationship between individuals who are related as second cousins or closer. It is actually fairly common in some parts of the world like the Middle East and western Asia.

In British Columbia, and elsewhere in Canada, it is legal to be in a marital relationship with a first cousin, a first cousin once removed or a second cousin. However, it is illegal to be in such a relationship with someone more closely related than a first cousin, such as a parent, a child, a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, provided that one of the individuals is aware of the blood relation.

Being in a marital and/or sexual relationship with someone more closely related to you than a first cousin is the definition of incest in Canada and is illegal.

This is a controversial subject in Canada, as some would argue that what consenting adults do behind closed doors should not be illegal, and that the law should not concern itself with these issues. There is at least one petition in BC to change the law concerning consanguineous marriage arguing that the law has not kept up with societal norms, but rather unfortunately still reflects Christian influences on the law from hundreds of years ago.

The discussion above relates to adults. Entirely different laws apply to minors engaged in sexual activity, consanguineous or otherwise.

Right or wrong, incest is a crime in British Columbia and throughout Canada. So, a consanguineous marriage between two adult individuals related more closely than first cousins is a crime if one or both of the adults know about how they are related.

If you have been charged with a sexual crime, or anticipate being charge with one, please contact Gagan Nahal for a free consultation in Vancouver at (604) 527-4769. Mr. Nahal’s law practice focuses on criminal defence law, he has extensive experience in these areas of the law.


Gagan Nahal is a criminal defence lawyer based in Surrey, British Columbia, although he has represented clients across Canada. He works vigorously and tirelessly defending his clients.


If you have any questions about this article or you would like to talk to Mr. Nahal, please call him directly at (604) 527-4769.