Taiwan’s top court on Friday nullified a decade-old criminal adultery law under which having extra marital affairs could result in jail term.
The court revoked Article 239 of Taiwan’s Criminal Code, which stipulated that a“ married person who commits adultery with another shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year; the other party to the adultery shall be subject to the same punishment.”
Hsu Tzong-li, president of the Judicial Yuan, the judicial branch of Taiwan’s government, said the law had been nullified because it seriously undermined personal sexual autonomy and privacy.
“After the decriminalisation of adultery, people can rely on the Civil Code to protect family and marriage,’’ Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hui-huang told a news conference in Taipei.
The court also nullified an article in the criminal code stating that in an adultery case, the withdrawal of a complaint against a spouse shall not be considered to be a withdrawal against the other adulterer.
Friday’s ruling was handed down several weeks after oral arguments, which saw the Ministry of Justice cite a number of surveys showing that 70 per cent of the population opposes the decriminalisation of adultery.
Kuan Hsiao-wei, an associate professor of law at National Taipei University, called Friday’s ruling a “milestone in the history of sexual rights and human rights in Taiwan.”
She said that the adultery law had been implemented in a gendered way, with women roughly 20 per cent more likely to be convicted than men, even though men commit adultery more often.
The criminal adultery law was deemed constitutional in a 2002 ruling .
The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said Taiwan had become more inclusive during that time in respecting personal freedom and sexual autonomy.
Tseng Hsien-ying, president of the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, said that the ruling would harm the institution of marriage, state-run Central News Agency reported.
Edited By: Halima Sheji (NAN)