Indonesia bans intercourse exterior marriage as parliament passes sweeping new felony code

Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesian lawmakers unanimously handed a sweeping new felony code on Tuesday that criminalizes intercourse exterior marriage, as a part of a tranche of modifications that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms within the Southeast Asian nation.

The brand new code, which additionally applies to international residents and vacationers, bans cohabitation earlier than marriage, apostasy, and supplies punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the nationwide ideology.

“All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” stated lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who led the parliamentary fee in command of revising the colonial-era code. “The old code belongs to Dutch heritage … and is no longer relevant.”

In a information convention Tuesday, Legislation and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly stated he hoped that Indonesians understood that lawmakers had finished all the pieces they might to accommodate “public aspiration.”

He stated it wasn’t simple for a multicultural and multi-ethnic nation to make a felony code that “accommodates all interests” and invited dissatisfied events to submit a judicial overview to the constitutional court docket.

The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia has seen an increase in non secular conservatism lately. Strict Islamic legal guidelines are already enforced in elements of the nation, together with the semi-autonomous Aceh province, the place alcohol and playing are banned. Public floggings additionally happen within the area for a spread of offenses together with homosexuality and adultery.

Within the lead as much as Tuesday’s vote, rights teams and critics warned that the brand new code would “disproportionately impact women” and additional curtail human rights and freedoms within the nation of greater than 270 million folks.

“What we’re witnessing is a huge setback to Indonesia’s hard-won progress in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms after the 1998 revolution. This criminal code should have never been passed in the first place,” stated Usman Hamid, Govt Director of Amnesty Worldwide Indonesia.

The brand new felony code runs to 200 pages and has been years within the making.

A earlier draft of the code was set to be handed in 2019 however the vote was postponed after hundreds of protesters, largely college students, took to the streets demanding the federal government withdraw it.

In a televised deal with on the time, President Joko Widodo stated he would delay the vote after “seriously considering feedback from different parties who feel objections on some substantial content of the criminal code.”

Hamid from Amnesty Worldwide Indonesia Amnesty famous that there had been “no meaningful changes” enacted since 2019.

Under the model handed on Tuesday, intercourse exterior marriage carries a possible one-year jail time period although there a restrictions on who can lodge a proper grievance. For instance, the dad and mom of youngsters who’re cohabitating earlier than marriage have the authority to report them.

In addition to introducing new offenses, the code additionally expands on present legal guidelines and punishments. Blasphemy legal guidelines have elevated from “one to six provisions” and might now result in a five-year jail sentence, in keeping with a draft doc.

Hamid stated legal guidelines on insulting the nation’s leaders and unsanctioned protests could have a “chilling effect” on free speech.

“The reinstatement of provisions banning insults to the president and vice president, the sitting government as well as state institutions would further create a palpable chilling effect on freedom of speech and criminalize legitimate criticisms,” he stated.”

“The ban on unsanctioned public demonstrations could unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly.”

“Moreover, ‘morality provisions’ could even potentially be misused to criminalize rape and sexual violence victims on the accusation of adultery, or even target members of gender minority groups,” he added.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono stated the legal guidelines are “a setback for already declining religious freedom in Indonesia,” warning that “non-believers could be prosecuted and jailed.”

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide avenue for selective enforcement,” he stated.

Hadi Rahmat Purnama, from the College of Indonesia’s legislation college, stated the legal guidelines could be carried out after a transitional interval of three years.