Committee proposes to decriminalize adultery

‘FAMILY VALUES’::KMT caucus convener Sufin Siluko said he opposes the motion, because decriminalizing adultery could cause severe changes within society

By Cheng Hung-ta and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, May 20, 2017 - Page 3

Lawmakers across party lines on Thursday remained silent on the agreement of the preparatory committee for the National Congress on Judicial Reform to list adultery as an offense that needs to be decriminalized, with only a few openly voicing support or opposition.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said the party had already received a great many reactions — mostly negative — regarding the news that decriminalizing adultery would be a part of future judicial reforms.

Lin called on the government to hold more public hearings and listen to opinions from all sides, adding that judicial reforms should not be carried out until there is a social consensus.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that while many counties do not treat adultery as a criminal and punishable offense, the culture in Taiwan still tends to be conservative on such social issues.

Decriminalizing adultery could have a social impact comparable with the decriminalization of class-4 narcotics, which led to an increase in the number of younger drug users, Lee said.

New Power Party (NPP) Legislators declined to comment on the development.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said he fully supported the motion and said adultery cases should be adjudicated in civil courts, as treating adultery as a criminal issue was outdated and unfair.

KMT caucus convener Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) said he opposes the proposal and that decriminalizing adultery would cause severe change within society.

The KMT supports “family values” and would keep those values in mind when scrutinizing the amendment in the Legislative Yuan, Sufin said.

The committee also called for the abolition of Article 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), should Article 239 of the Criminal Code not be abolished.

Article 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that under the “no trials without complaint” principle, if charges against one of the accomplices are dropped, charges against all other suspects would need to be dropped as well. Under Article 239 of the Criminal Code, however, adulterers would still be charged should their spouse retract the charges.

The committee has held five meetings to date, though it has experienced several setbacks, including opposition by Prosecutor-General Yen Da-ho (顏大和), who said that the reforms were a publicity stunt.

Two of the committee’s original members have resigned, citing a lack of respect among the members, too many issues on the agenda and the committee overreaching its authority.