Scotland rejects change in definition of adultery

Divorce|March 8th 2015

Members of the Scottish Parliament have rejected a bid to change the definition of adultery.

Currently, adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman if at least one of them is married to someone else. This is also the case in English law. Christian campaigner Akri Jones submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament to “amend the current definition of adultery within legislation so that is not restrictive to gender status”.

She said that, without the change in definition, same sex couples “will not be able to cite adultery as grounds for divorce”.

Her petition was rejected by the Public Petitions Committee in Holyrood. While Ms Jones was told she could resubmit her petition after a year, a spokesperson for the Scottish government said that they had “no intention of changing current divorce law and provisions in it relating to adultery”.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill argued that the concept of adultery had “passed its time” and added that “the government is not going to be legislating on this or anything between now and the end of the parliamentary term 2016”.

The Free Church of Scotland expressed concern that the petition could lead politicians to simply do away with adultery laws altogether. James Fraser, chairman of the church’s board of trustees said that abolishing the law “would send a very clear signal of the absolute abandonment of the institution of marriage in our culture today”.

In 2012, politicians in Westminster similarly confirmed that they had no plans to change the definition under English law once same sex couples were legally eligible to marry.

Photo of the Scottish Parliament by Ian Britton via Flickr

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  1. Andrew says:

    If we absolutely must retain divorce as a so-called judicial process with “grounds” which have to be proved (which means that the petitioner signs on the dotted line, tells a stranger that it is true, and pays that stranger five pounds for signing on another dotted line) we could lose adultery and treat it as a form of unreasonable behaviour. Which it is.

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