Indonesia Parliament Passes Bill Banning Extra-Marital Sex

Indonesia’s parliament on Tuesday approved legislation that would ban sex outside marriage, in what critics said was a major blow to rights in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

After the new criminal code was endorsed by all nine parties in a sweeping overhaul of the legal code, Deputy House Speaker Sufmi Dusko Ahmed banged the gavel and shouted “legal” to approve the text.

A revision of Indonesia’s criminal code, which dates back to the Dutch colonial era, has been debated for decades.

Rights groups opposed the amendments, condemning the crackdown on civil liberties and political freedoms, as well as a shift towards fundamentalism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, where secularism is enshrined in the constitution.

“We have done our best to accommodate the important issues and the different opinions that were debated,” Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona Lawley told parliament.

“However, it is time for us to take a historic decision on penal code amendment and discard the colonial criminal code that we have inherited.”

A provision in the text, which still needs to be signed by the president, says the new criminal code will go into effect in three years.

1 year in jail

Some of the most controversial articles in the newly passed code criminalize sex outside marriage as well as cohabitation between unmarried couples.

Illicit cohabitation would carry a maximum prison sentence of six months, and sex outside marriage would attract a jail term of one year, according to the text seen by AFP.

There are also fears that these rules could have a major impact on the LGBTQ community in Indonesia, where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Albert Aries, spokesman for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ criminal code bill dissemination team, defended the amendments ahead of the vote, saying the law would protect the institution of marriage.

He added that extramarital sex can only be reported by the spouse, parents or children, limiting the scope of the amendment.

The article on extramarital sex has been criticized by Indonesian business organizations as harmful to tourism, although officials insisted that foreigners traveling to Bali would not be affected.

At a business conference ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Sung Yong Kim, the US ambassador to Indonesia, said he was concerned about an “ethics clause” in the criminal code that could have a “negative” impact on businesses.

Before the vote, sloganeering broke out between a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party or PKS and the deputy house speaker.

“Don’t be a dictator”, MP from the Islamist party Iskan Kulba shouted after Lubis was stopped from speaking.

Bambang Wurianto, head of the commission overseeing deliberations on the text, acknowledged that “it is a product by humans and will therefore never be perfect”.

But he invited critics to “file a judicial review in the constitutional court” instead of demonstrating.

Rights groups slammed the law as morality policing.

Osman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, told AFP: “We are going backwards… repressive laws should have been abolished but the bill shows that scholars abroad are right, the undeniable decline of our democracy.” Coming.”

Around a hundred people protested against the bill on Monday and unfurled a yellow banner that read, “Reject the passage of the Criminal Code amendment”, with some flower petals on the banner, as used for funerals. Is.

Another protest rejecting the new law was due to take place in front of Parliament House on Tuesday.

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