Indonesia’s Parliament votes to ban sex outside of marriage

Dec 5, 2022, 6:25 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 4:47 pm
Activists hold up posters during a rally against Indonesia's new criminal law in Yogyakarta, Indone...

Activists hold up posters during a rally against Indonesia's new criminal law in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. The country's parliament passed the long-awaited and controversial revision of its penal code Tuesday that criminalizes extramarital sex for citizens and visiting foreigners alike. Writings on the posters read "Reject the revised penal code" and "Revised criminal law shackles press freedom." (AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)

(AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday to ban sex outside of marriage and insulting the president and state institutions.

Once in force, the bans will affect foreign visitors as well as citizens. They’re part of an overhaul of the country’s criminal code that has been in the works for years. The new code also expands an existing blasphemy law and keeps a five-year prison term for deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia’s six recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The code still needs approval from the president, and the government says it will not be fully implemented for several years.

The amended code says sex outside marriage is punishable by a year in jail and cohabitation by six months, but adultery charges must be based on police reports lodged by a spouse, parents or children.

Citizens could also face a 10-year prison term for associating with organizations that follow Marxist-Leninist ideology and a four-year sentence for spreading communism.

Rights groups criticized some of the revisions as overly broad or vague and warned that adding them to the code could penalize normal activities and threaten freedom of expression and privacy rights.

However, some advocates hailed the passage as a victory for the country’s LGBTQ community. After fierce deliberation, lawmakers eventually agreed to remove an article proposed by Islamic groups that would have made gay sex illegal.

The revised code also preserves the death penalty, despite calls from the National Commission on Human Rights and other groups to abolish capital punishment. But the new code adds a 10-year probationary period to the death penalty. If the convict behaves well during this period, their sentence will be reduced to life imprisonment or 20 years’ imprisonment.

The code maintains a previous ban on abortion, but updates it to add exceptions already provided in a 2004 Medical Practice Law, for women with life-threatening medical conditions and for rape, provided that the fetus is less than 12 weeks old.

Under Indonesian regulations, legislation passed by Parliament becomes law after being signed by the president. But even without the president’s signature, it automatically takes effect after 30 days unless the president issues a regulation to cancel it.

President Joko Widodo is widely expected to sign the revised code in light of its extended approval process in Parliament. But the law is likely to gradually take effect over a period of up to three years, according to Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights Edward Hiariej.

“A lot of implementing regulations must be worked out, so it’s impossible in one year,” he said.

The code restores a ban on insulting a sitting president or vice president, state institutions and the national ideology. Insults to a sitting president must be reported by the president and can lead to up to three years in jail.

Hiariej said the government provided “the strictest possible explanation that distinguishes between insults and criticism.”

The current penal code is a legacy of Dutch colonial administration. Updates have languished for decades while legislators in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation debated how to adapt the code to its traditional cultures and norms. Indonesia proclaimed independence on Aug. 17, 1945.

A previous revised code was poised for passage in 2019, but President Widodo urged lawmakers to delay a vote amid mounting public criticism that led to nationwide protests in which tens of thousands of people participated. Opponents said it contained articles that discriminated against minorities and that the legislative process lacked transparency. Widodo instructed Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly to obtain input from various groups as lawmakers debated the articles.

A parliamentary taskforce finalized the bill in November and lawmakers unanimously approved it on Tuesday, in what Laoly praised as a “historic step.”

“It turns out that it is not easy for us to break away from the colonial living legacy, even though this nation no longer wants to use colonial products,” Laoly said in a news conference.

“Finalizing this process demonstrates that even 76 years after the Dutch Criminal Code was adopted as the Indonesian Criminal Code, it is never too late to produce laws on our own,” Laoly said. “The Criminal Code is a reflection of the civilization of a nation.”

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that laws penalizing criticism of public leaders are contrary to international law, and the fact that some forms of expression are considered insulting is not sufficient to justify restrictions or penalties.

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide a venue for selective enforcement,” said Andreas Harsono, a senior Indonesia researcher at the group.

Many hotels, including in tourism areas such as Bali and metropolitan Jakarta, will risk losing visitors, he added.

“These laws let police extort bribes, let officials jail political foes, for instance, with the blasphemy law,” Harsono said.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. was “closely monitoring the revised criminal code” of its democratic partner.

“We are concerned regarding how these changes could impact the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Indonesia,” Price said Tuesday at a news conference in Washington. “We’re also concerned about how the law could impact U.S. citizens visiting and living in Indonesia, as well as the investment climate for U.S. companies.”

___

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, pauses as she listens during a news conference about the d...
Associated Press

Tyre Nichols’ mom, chief: Women on two sides of a tragedy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tyre Nichols ‘ mother was just steps away from her son but couldn’t hear his anguished cries. Beaten and broken, struggling to survive, Nichols had called out for her as five Memphis Police Department officers punched him, kicked him, and hit him with a baton after a traffic stop on Jan. […]
1 day ago
FILE - Beyoncé appears at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 2021.  (AP Pho...
Associated Press

How to watch the Grammys live (including the red carpet)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Grammys have evolved from their humble beginnings into a daylong feast of music — and there’s many ways to watch the red carpet and show live. Most of the awards are handed out before that during the Premiere Ceremony, which the Recording Academy will stream live Sunday beginning at 3:30 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Woman dies as migrant boat sinks off Greek island

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A woman died when a boat carrying at least 41 migrants crashed on a rocky coast on the Greek island of Leros Sunday, authorities said. Greece’s coast guard said they were alerted by a person who saw a body floating at sea. Three vessels and a helicopter, joined by a detachment […]
1 day ago
An injured man evacuates with family members from a residential building which was hit by a Russian...
Associated Press

Ukraine: 5 injured in rocket attacks on 2nd-largest city

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Five people were injured in Russian rocket attacks Sunday in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, officials said. Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said four people were injured when a Russian S-300 missile fell near an apartment block and another was hurt when a missile hit a higher-education building. Local […]
1 day ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe imposed a ban Sunday on Russian diesel fuel and other refined oil products, slashing energy dependency on Moscow and seeking to further crimp the Kremlin’s fossil fuel earnings as punishment for invading Ukraine. The ban comes along with a price cap agreed by the Group of Seven allied democracies. The […]
1 day ago
FILE - Then-Republican candidate for Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales speaks during an inte...
Associated Press

Election skeptics slow to get sweeping changes in GOP states

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republicans in some heavily conservative states won their campaigns for secretary of state last year after claiming they would make sweeping changes aimed at keeping fraud out of elections. So far, their efforts to make good on their promises are mixed, in some cases because their rhetoric has bumped up against skepticism […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Indonesia’s Parliament votes to ban sex outside of marriage