85% in favour of keeping adultery illegal: Poll

TAIPEI - Eighty-eight percent of participants in a government-hosted online poll said they want adultery to stay in Taiwan's law books as a criminal act.

"Should adultery be decriminalized?" asked the National Development Council (NDC, 國發會) in a public opinion poll that opened on May 14.

As of press time, 8,710 of participants - or 88 percent - have voted in opposition of decriminalizing adultery, while 1,236 of participants expressed favor.

The website poll, open until Aug. 11 at http://join.gov.tw/openup/, is not conducted through random sampling and may not be representative of the Taiwan population.

Adultery is punishable by up to a year in prison, according to Article 239 of Taiwan's Criminal Code (刑法).

In recent years, the law has come under fire for invasion of privacy and discriminatory applications that take women to court while sparing men, whose wives tend to drop charges.

South Korea revoked its decades-old adultery law this February, triggering renewed debate about decriminalization in Taiwan.

Eyes on Poll

In 2013, the Ministry of Justice (法務部) conducted two opinion polls in which voters overwhelmingly favored keeping adultery illegal.

Chuang Ming-fen (莊明芬), a section chief in the NDC's department of information management, said yesterday that results of the latest online poll will be sent to the Ministry of Justice for reference.

Staff from the ministry will review and respond to the comments posted below the poll on the NDC website, she said.

Who Are The Netizens?

Due to the nature of the Web poll, the NDC cannot track specific users, but it does know 70 percent of users are accessing the system via a mobile device, Chuang said.

The format of a Web poll may provide otherwise hidden members of the public with a way to speak up, according to the NDC.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said yesterday that not all public opinions carry through on the Internet and that the adultery law issue requires more space for debate.

Awakening Foundation Chairwoman Chuang Chiao-ju (莊喬汝) said that support for decriminalizing adultery only means relieving the act of criminal liability: Cheating spouses still have potential of responsibility due to the violation of civil law.

Netizens who have voted in the NDC poll may not be aware of the full legal implications of decriminalization, she said.

More about