1 in 10: 'Adultery should be illegal'

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
March 17, 2011, 6:55 PM GMT+0

Over one in ten Brits say that they think adultery should be illegal, our poll has found, with young people even more condemnatory than their older counterparts. We gave a list of various activities, some legal, some illegal, to a representative sample of 2,595 British adults and asked them to say whether each should be illegal or legal.

  • Perhaps surprisingly, 12% in total said that adultery, defined as having sex with someone while being married or in a civil partnership with somebody else, should be illegal
  • Men and women are broadly in agreement, with 11% of men and 13% of women thinking it should be illegal

However, a noticeable difference in attitude emerges when considering the opinions of our youngest respondents with those of our oldest.

  • Over one in five (21%) 18 to 24 year olds thinks adultery should be illegal
  • While just 9% of those over 60 agree

Not allowed

Among the activities most thought should be illegal were insider trading (69%) and urinating in a public place (67%), both of which are actually illegal. However, burning the British flag (57%) and gazumping (accepting a verbal offer from one house buyer but then accepting a higher offer from someone else, 48%) were also activities many thought should be illegal but which are, in fact, perfectly lawful in the UK.

On the other end of the scale, 7% thought attempting suicide should be illegal, while a very small 3% of people said that giving birth to a child while not being married should not be allowed.

Adultery isn’t a criminal offence in Britain, but can be cited in divorce cases if the injured party can prove the adultery has taken place and that he/she can no longer continue to live with his/her partner as a result.

See the survey details and full results here