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Taiwan: Constitutional Court Finds Law on Prostitution Unconstitutional

(Nov. 20, 2009) On November 6, 2009, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled that the Social Order and Maintenance Act (of June 29, 1991) is unconstitutional because it undermines the guaranteed right of equality under the Constitution (art. 7) by prescribing penalties for prostitutes, but not their clients. (Ximena Marinero, Taiwan High Court Rules Prostitution Law Unconstitutional, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Nov. 7, 2009, available at
; The Constitution of the Republic of China and the Additional Articles [in English], THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA YEARBOOK 2008, (last visited Nov. 18, 2009).)

Under article 80 of the Act, prostitution is subject to a punishment of up to three days of imprisonment, detention, or a fine of up to NT$30,000 (about US$935). Although the Act must now be amended, it will remain in effect for two years from the date of publication of the Court's decision. (Interpretation No. 666 [in Chinese], Judicial Yuan website, (last visited Nov. 18, 2009); Social Order and Maintenance Act [in Chinese], Laws and Regulations Database of the Republic of China,
(last visited Nov. 18, 2009).)

Taiwan authorities are reportedly reassessing the legal treatment of prostitution and considering the adoption of new measures, such as the establishment of zones in which prostitution would be lawful. Legalized prostitution existed in Taiwan until 1997, when it was banned and a transition period, lasting until 2001, was instituted to allow the prostitutes to find other means of employment. (Marinero, supra.)