Adultery as a criminal offense ruled unconstitutional
By ECCT staff writers
Provisions in Taiwan’s laws that treat adultery as a criminal offense have been ruled unconstitutional and declared invalid effective immediately, according to an announcement by Constitutional Court Chief Justice Hsu Tzong-li today.
The Constitutional Court determined that the laws that punish adultery infringe on the privacy of individuals and the right of people to make their own decisions and that the adverse effects generated by treating adultery as a criminal offense have exceeded their public benefit and violated the principle of proportionality.
The court's decision was made after 15 grand justices heard arguments on the case and reviewed the provisions in the criminal code and the code of criminal procedure that came under scrutiny.
Article 239 of the criminal code stipulates that a married person who commits adultery and the other party to the adultery shall be sentenced to prison for less than one year, but there can be no trial without a complaint from the alleged victim. The court ruled that Article 239 of the criminal code was not consistent with Articles 22 and 23 of the constitution that protect the freedom and rights of people that are not detrimental to social order or public welfare.
Article 23 stipulates that people's freedom and rights cannot be restricted by law “except by such as may be necessary to prevent infringement upon the freedoms of other persons, to avert an imminent crisis, to maintain social order or to advance public welfare.”
The court believed that adultery was not detrimental to social order or public welfare.
The court also ruled that the provisions of Article 239 of the code of criminal procedure violated the principle of equal protection in the constitution.