The Constitutional Court of Taiwan ruled this Friday that the laws that punish adultery go against the constitution of the island, which thus becomes the last territory in East Asia to decriminalize infidelities.
The institution had determined in 2002 that this regulation was “essential to protect marriage, the family system and the social order” in an interpretation appealed in recent years by at least 18 judges and a man who was convicted of being unfaithful to his partner .
Article 239 of the Taiwanese Penal Code punishes adultery with penalties of up to one year in prison, as long as the victim has filed a complaint about it.
Likewise, this article stipulates that the other person who had participated in the extramarital affair must receive the same punishment as the adulterer.
According to the local press, recent opinion polls showed broad opposition to the ruling finally issued by the Constitutional Court, which considers that the State should not intervene in marital conflicts or relationships and that it is a violation of sexual autonomy.
Decriminalization was a specific claim by women’s rights groups, who considered that it was almost always the wife and not the husband who ended up being punished under these provisions.
In addition, in the opinion of these groups, the regulations were not effective in achieving their main purpose, that of protecting marriages and promoting loyalty within them.
Taiwan was, until today, one of the few countries in the world in which infidelities were still criminally prosecuted, although there are still others on the continent such as the Philippines or Indonesia that continue to do so.
In East Asia, the last country to decriminalize them was South Korea, which made such a decision in 2015 after 62 years, claiming that it was an infringement of the rights to privacy and sexual autonomy.