Opinions on adultery decriminalization ruling mixed

05/29/2020 10:21 PM
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Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Reaction to the Constitutional Court's ruling Friday that said adultery as a crime was unconstitutional was mixed, ranging from disgust to delight.

The court's Interpretation No. 791 said provisions in the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure against adultery were unconstitutional because they infringed on people's privacy and did not respect the principle of equal protection in the Constitution.

Of the 15 grand justices, twelve had concurring opinions, two concurred in part, and one dissented.

The ruling was "ridiculous" and unbelievable, blasted Tseng Hsien-ying (曾獻瑩), president of the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, who said Interpretation 791 failed to meet people's expectations.

Tseng said the grand justices valued sexual freedom more than marriage, but he felt that people who want sexual freedom should not get married because "once married, people should be loyal to each other, be restrained." 

Tseng warned that the interpretation will lead to the "trend of having extramarital affairs" in Taiwan becoming uncontrollable.

"Those who get hurt in marriages will be in a more disadvantageous situation because the law no longer stands on their side," he argued.

Outside the Judicial Yuan.
Outside the Judicial Yuan.

Meanwhile, the Awakening Foundation, which had advocated the decriminalization of adultery for years, expressed delight at Interpretation No. 791, saying it was a milestone in Taiwan's constitutional history and gender equality movement.

"One cannot force the other party to stay in a marital relationship using the Criminal Code," the foundation said in a statement, calling the decriminalization of adultery a crucial step in the promotion of marriage equality.

Asked by reporters about concerns over the social impact of the court's ruling, Lin Meng-huang (林孟皇), one of the 15 grand justices who made the interpretation, said decriminalizing adultery did not mean that people can have extramarital affairs anytime they want.

There are still restraints, such as public voices and compensation stipulated in the Civil Code, Lin said.

"What we should be concerned about is that people run their own marriage and feelings on their own. There is no way the state can intervene," Lin said. "This is the meaning of the interpretation."

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Hsiao Po-wen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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