Asia

Taiwan top court rules adultery no longer a crime

TAIPEI: Taiwan's top court decriminalised adultery Friday (May 29), ruling the law against it breached constitutional protections of sexual autonomy and equality, in a move hailed by rights groups.

"The Criminal Code should not be used to punish actions that hurt personal feelings," Hsu Tzong-li, the head of the constitutional court said in announcing the order.

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Adultery in Taiwan had been punishable by up to a year in prison.

Those convicted normally paid a fine instead of serving time in jail, although they still received criminal records.

The ruling comes after similar moves in India and South Korea in recent years to strike down adultery laws.

Rights groups in Taiwan say women were 20 per cent more likely to be convicted than men in adultery cases, while campaigners against the law said it deepened gender inequality and violated rights to privacy.

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It was also used to pressure some victims of sexual crimes to drop charges, according to Wang Yueh-hao, head of rights group the Garden of Hope Foundation.

The law had also allowed plaintiffs to withdraw charges against their spouse while still suing the third party, which the court found a violation of equality.

In one case often cited by rights groups, a college student who came forward to accuse her professor of sexually assaulting her was sued by his wife for adultery, convicted and ordered to compensate the man's family.

Friday's ruling "is a new landmark in the protection of gender human rights," said the TaiwRead More – Source