Cabinet debates legislation on adultery

TIME FOR CHANGE::A minister is said to be concerned that the current law causes Taiwan to be viewed as a country grappling with insufficient guarantees of freedom

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - Page 3

Cabinet officials debated the decriminalization of adultery at their weekly Cabinet meeting after Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) raised the issue, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said yesterday.

Under the Criminal Code, adultery is a criminal offense punishable by up to one year in prison.

According to Cheng, Lung’s suggestion to repeal the penalty received a mixed response.

Lung was quoted by Cheng as saying that the law concerning adultery caused her embarrassment when she discussed problems on Taiwan’s legal systems with foreign friends while she was studying and working as a teacher abroad.

While laws such as the Publication Act (出版法) and Article 100 of the Criminal Code, both concerning the right to freedom of expression, were abolished, the adultery law remains a concern, Lung was quoted by Cheng as saying.

Lung’s concern has been that the law causes Taiwan to be regarded as a country which is still grappling with insufficient guarantees of freedom, Cheng said.

The Ministry of Justice said it had studied the issue and was opposed to the decriminalization of adultery, but Minister Without Portfolio Luo Ying-shay’s (羅瑩雪), Greater Tainan Deputy Mayor Yen Chun-tso (顏純左) and Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) suggested a review of the law, Cheng said.

Yen said the legislation was based on the concept that a person in a marriage does not have the freedom to decide what to do with his or her own body, which contradicts legislation on marital rape under the Criminal Code which is based on the notion that the right to one’s own body is fundamental, even in marriage, Cheng said.

Cheng quoted Luo as saying that the issue deserved thorough deliberation.

Decriminalization of adultery is accepted in most advanced societies, but in Taiwan, most women’s groups were opposed to the idea, Luo was quoted as saying.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) did not weigh in on the discussion, Cheng said.

The government should not be satisfied with the “status quo,” and should listen to the views of experts and academics to be able to move the nation forward, Jiang said.