Tue, Nov 12, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Oral sex is not a form of adultery, judges conclude

UNUSUAL CASES Although judges are not bound by the conclusion, it can be used as a reference in cases where it is not so clear if adultery has been committed

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sixty judges and lawyers sparked controversy yesterday by deciding that oral sex is not a kind of intercourse.

Taiwan High Court spokesman Tsai Kuo-tsai (蔡國在) said that the decision will only be a reference for judges during future trials.

The Taiwan High Court held its annual closed-door meeting for judges and lawyers from Wednesday to Friday. Tsai said that it was a meeting for judges and lawyers to brainstorm and discuss rare cases featuring controversial issues they have encountered over the past year.

During a meeting last week, a judge from the Shihlin District Court proposed a question whether oral sex should be regarded as committing adultery.

The judge raised a case where a woman had oral sex at her residence in Neihu with a man who she knew was married and was caught in bed by the man's wife. The judge asked his colleagues if the act constituted adultery.

According to Tsai, the group was divided over what constituted a fair ruling.

One of them argued that according to the Criminal Code, intercourse refers to any form of genital contact, including vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex -- thus the two people had committed adultery.

The other group insisted that the Criminal Code states that adultery occurs when a man and woman consent to intercourse, which exists only in the case of genital-to-genital contact and oral sex should not be regarded as having sex.

The decision showed that 49 out of 60 meeting participants believed that oral sex should not be regarded as intercourse.

"These 60 participants were representatives from different courts and law firms. Since there is no law that clearly states whether oral sex is a form of intercourse, judges still possess full authorization to make their own decisions during trials," Tsai said.

"Whatever decision these participants came up with during the meeting will only be a reference for judges when they handle similar cases in the future," Tsai said.

A Taipei judge who wished to remain anonymous told the Taipei Times that the meeting's decision will actually complicate judges' work.

He believes that having oral sex is equivalent to adultery. He suggested that the Criminal Code be amended and to clearly state that oral sex is also a part of intercourse.

"If I understand their decision correctly, it seems to me that an adultery case will be dismissed right away if there is not a sufficient witness, evidence such as a used condom or both if defendants admit that they have only had oral sex, even if they did have intercourse," he said.

"If that is the case, a victim in an adultery case will not be protected by the law at all. It doesn't solve problems, it creates problems," he said.

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