New York could scrap law that criminalizes adultery

A US state could be about to scrap a century-old law which criminalizes the act of cheating.

Adultery has been classed as a low-level criminal offense – known as a misdemeanor – in the state of New York since 1907.

Such laws were traditionally introduced in states across the US to reduce the number of divorces at a time when a cheating spouse was the only way to secure a legal split.

However, only about a dozen people have been charged in New York since 1972, with the last more than a decade ago.

And of those cases, just five have netted convictions, according to New York assemblyman Charles Lavine, who has sponsored a bill to repeal the seldom-used law.

“It just makes no sense whatsoever, and we’ve come a long way since intimate relationships between consenting adults are considered immoral,” he said.

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

Katharine Silbaugh, a law professor at Boston University who co-authored the book “A Guide to America’s Sex Laws”, said adultery bans were aimed at punishing women.

“Let’s just say this: patriarchy,” she said.

The bill to scrap the adultery ban has already passed the state assembly and is expected to soon pass the state senate, before it can move to the governor’s office for a signature.