New York to legalise adultery

Marital infidelity still classed as a criminal offence in 16 states and can result in jail time

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

Adultery is set to become legal in the state of New York with politicians poised to scrap the crime of infidelity among married people.

New York is one of 16 states where marital cheating is still a criminal offence. Adultery is still classed as a felony in Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Adultery, which has been on the books since 1907, is a misdemeanour with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 90 days in jail.

The offence was introduced at a time when adultery was the only way of ending a marriage and legislators were keen to reduce the number of divorces.

The first prosecution, which took place weeks after the law came into effect, involved a married Coney Island investor who left his wife for a 25-year-old woman who was working in the millinery section of a department store.

Prosecutions are now extremely rare, with only about a dozen since 1972, with convictions in five cases.

The last was in New York in 2010, involving an incident in a park. However, the case was dropped as part of a plea deal.

‘Moral outrage’

Charles Lavine, a Democratic assemblyman, has introduced the bill to decriminalise adultery.

Mr Lavine said: “The state has no business regulating consensual sexual behaviour between adults.

He added: “It just makes no sense whatsoever and we’ve come a long way since intimate relationships between consenting adults are considered immoral. 

“It’s a joke. This law was someone’s expression of moral outrage.”

This is not the first time attempts have been made to scrap the law. It was brought up as far back as 1964, but the proposals never led to a change in law.

The bill has passed through the New York Assembly, and is now awaiting approval from the state senate.

With politicians now regarding the law as archaic, the measure is set to be confined to legislative history in New York

The Catholic church has raised no objection to the proposed change.

Dennis Poust, the executive director of New York State Catholic Conference, said: “Adultery is a sin. I don’t know if it’s a crime.”