In Voyager 5x17, The Disease (Full Transcript), Harry Kim sleeps with an alien of the Varro species, which is apparently against the rules:

TAL: I told you we're not going to get caught. If someone had seen us, they would've reported it by now.

KIM: I'm violating about half a dozen regulations by just being in this room. And what we did earlier? I don't know if Starfleet even has a regulation for that.

TAL: What are you saying? Making love is a crime in your culture?

KIM: Yes! No. What I'm saying is, it's a breach of protocol.

TAL: How romantic.

KIM: The Captain instructed all away teams. No personal interaction with the Varro crew. I violated a direct order.

TAL: Come back to bed. That's an order.

I don't understand why this is a problem. Commander Riker used to do this all the time on the enterprise:

The best citation I can find is this, from the Memory Alpha Sexuality article:

In the 24th century, Starfleet personnel apparently required permission from a CMO and their commanding officers to engage in sexual relations with members of alien species, although this formality was only shown being observed once on board USS Voyager. (VOY: "Prophecy") Nevertheless, its breach was the basis for a reprimand being entered into Harry Kim's permanent record. When Kathryn Janeway informed Kim of the reprimand, she indicated that the regulations on inter-species sexual contact were "three centimeters thick." (VOY: "The Disease")

So, I have a few theories:

  • Riker asked for permission most of the time (though, clearly not in the case of the Malcorian nurse)
  • The rules changed between TNG and VOY
  • Picard chose not to enforce the rules
  • The rules were different for higher ranking officers
  • The rules only applied to poorly known species - the Federation had been studying the Malcorians for awhile

Are any of those theories correct? What are the rules exactly, and how did Harry Kim break them?

To clarify, the reason I'm asking the question at all is because throughout the episode, they keep saying "violated regulations", another quote:

JANEWAY: Noted. But there are regulations, and you've broken them. I'm entering a formal reprimand into your record, and I'm ordering you to break off this relationship. Do you understand?

She doesn't say "I gave a direct order and you didn't follow it", she said "you've broken regulations". If it were simply a matter of not following orders wouldn't it have been phrased differently?

  • 2
    I haven't seen the episode, but the transcript you quoted makes it clear that he was under orders to stay away. It could be that the regulations were simply those against disobeying orders, abandoning his post, compromising security, etc. Regulations specific to this situation, not universal standards.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 19, 2015 at 18:37
  • They were supposed to be interacting with the aliens, just not sleeping with them.
    – durron597
    Jun 19, 2015 at 18:45
  • Even so, he was disobeying orders. He said so himself: "No personal interaction with the Varro crew."
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 19, 2015 at 18:48
  • 7
    Because that's Kirk's job.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 20, 2015 at 0:29
  • 6
    I used to ask all kinds of questions of Voyager until I realized that they just phoned-it-in for that series... nothing really seems to jive on that show ever! Jun 22, 2015 at 11:00

4 Answers 4


The main problem isn't that he had sex with an alien, it's that he specifically violated the Captain's orders regarding fraternisation, something that the Varro were very alarmed about and one of the major pre-conditions for their mutual contact;

KIM: The Captain instructed all away teams. No personal interaction with the Varro crew. I violated a direct order.

As to the "three inch thick" regulations regarding alien contact, one only has to look at Commander Tucker's


to understand why Starfleet has strict rules regarding fraternisation with unknown alien species. Even with the best air filtration, if your crew regularly have intimate physical contact with aliens, that has to be a pretty good way for them to get infected with something nasty.

  • 7
    So it's not "he had sex with an alien", it's that he "had sex with an unknown alien species", and, to boot, it was against orders. The first half of the previous sentence is why they keep saying "violated regulations" not "violated orders".
    – durron597
    Jun 19, 2015 at 18:52
  • 10
    No, it's that he had sex with that specific alien species, against orders. He's awol, derelict of duty, disobeyed a direct order, trespassing, fraternizing, putting a tenuous alliance crucial to Voyager survival at risk. All broken regulations.
    – user16696
    Jun 19, 2015 at 19:36
  • 8
    Honestly, she only did it cause it was baby face Kim. Had Tom done it she would have just given him a "wtf really dude" stare down and moved on with it.
    – user16696
    Jun 19, 2015 at 19:59
  • 12
    @cde - Reprimanding Paris has actually proven remarkably successful. He goes from monumental screw-up to starfleet poster boy over the 7 seasons.
    – Valorum
    Jun 19, 2015 at 20:00
  • 12
    @Richard Well that's what normally happens when you marry a half klingon Maquis engineer with anger management issues.
    – durron597
    Jun 19, 2015 at 20:21

In addition to the above answers (captain's orders and lack of medical clearance in particular), the issue of rank is also at play here.

JANEWAY: I set the same standards for all my officers.

CHAKOTAY: If I object to one of your decisions you'll hear me out, even insist I speak up.

JANEWAY: You're my First Officer, he's an Ensign. He hasn't earned the right to question my orders, whatever his personal views.

Were he a higher officer, his position would give him more right to question the orders he was given by the captain of the ship (though he could probably question his direct superior within reason).

Of course, part of that initial order is also that Janeway is a little extra protective of Harry simply because he came onto her ship fresh out of the Academy.


It's the difference between "first contact" situations and those involving Federation members, or at least those with pre-existing relationships (good or bad). Riker presumably crossed the line with the Malcorian nurse (not yet "first contact"), and if he got away with it, would have been due to extenuating circumstances.

Also, being all alone in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager's survival depended on the tone of its relationships with the races/civilizations/spacefaring powers it encountered. Having one of those relationships tainted would be bad, and something that could easily be the result of an escalation originating in a minor breach of protocol. Janeway was taking enough risks in other ways, had to balance off with caution in this respect.

Finally, there is the health aspect covered in Richard's answer.


My guess is Riker - as XO - is the officer in charge of such matters. Janeway might prefer a more direct touch with her crew (very different mission, much smaller crew), but Picard probably leaves such matters to Riker's discretion.

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