The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a package of amendments to the Civil Code that would lower the age of majority from 20 to 18, which, if passed by the Legislative Yuan, is expected to take effect in 2023.
The package includes 38 legal amendments involving 14 central government agencies, Minister Without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.
The proposals were made to bring the nation in line with the international trend, as the age of majority in the US, the UK, France and Germany are all 18, Lo said, adding that Japan in 2018 also passed legislation that lowered the legal age to 18.
The age of criminal responsibility is 18, but the legal age defined by the code is 20, which has resulted in incongruities, he said.
Furthermore, the legal age of marriage for men is 18, but 16 for women, which runs counter to the values of gender equality, he said.
International experts have said that the nation’s marriageable age for women contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and that allowing women to marry at the age of 16 is tantamount to condoning child marriage, he said.
The legal age in the code was defined in 1929, which no longer fits today’s needs, considering how much more mature young people are today than in the past, he said.
If passed, Taiwanese who have turned 18 would be able to do a list of things that they would otherwise have had to wait, including renting a house, signing a contract, opening a bank account, starting a company or serving as a company director, filing a lawsuit or becoming members of commercial or education groups, he said.
The lowering of the legal age would have a profound impact on the nation and usher in a new era, he said, adding that it is imperative that all agencies affected adjust their administrative work accordingly.
Society today is far more advanced from 91 years ago in that people are more educated and enlightened, which merits the lowering of the legal age, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
There are 110 nations in the world that set their age of majority at 18, he said.
Academics, civic groups and students have long called for the age to be lowered, and the changes have been proposed in response to public expectations, he said.
Government agencies should communicate extensively with legislative caucuses so that the proposals could swiftly be passed into law, he said.
National Alliance of Parents Organizations chairman Hsieh Kuo-ching (謝國清) said he welcomed the amendments, but added that the government should improve education on students’ problem solving skills and help them learn to be responsible for their decisions.
Additional reporting by Rachel Lin
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