Indonesia could ban sex before marriage

  • 30/01/2018
Man and woman sleeping in bed under bed clothes with exposed bare feet at bottom of bed.
Photo credit: Getty

Indonesia's parliament is drafting proposed revisions to the national criminal code that could ban all consensual sex outside marriage, sparking alarm among activists who say it would breach basic rights and could be misused to target the LGBT community.

The parliamentary committee drawing up recommendations to change the Dutch colonial-era criminal code has still to finalise its proposals.

But a draft, seen by Reuters on Monday (local time), included measures to criminalise extramarital sex, same-sex relations, and co-habitation, all of which were previously unregulated by law.

Adultery is already deemed a crime in Indonesia, the Southeast Asian country with the world's largest Muslim population.

Last month, the Constitutional Court narrowly voted to strike down a similar petition filed by the Family Love Alliance, one of the conservative groups behind the move to push legislation through parliament.

"The truth is the majority of religions in Indonesia hold the same values, so... [the revisions] are representative of the majority and of all cultures in Indonesia," said Euis Sunarti, a member of the Family Love Alliance, which likens itself to conservative evangelical Christian groups in the United States.

The parliamentary committee has been holding consultations with the public, taking the opinion of religious scholars, legal experts and rights groups over how to change the criminal code where it relates to extramarital sex.

Most political parties are reported to be for the changes, particularly those that outlaw gay sex.

Few Indonesian politicians have voiced support for LGBT rights for fear of alienating a largely conservative voter base ahead of legislative and presidential elections next year.

Rights activists say the proposals, if approved, would be difficult to police without violating privacy.

Activists are particularly worried the new law may be used to target the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, which has faced rising hostility in recent years.

A recent survey found that nearly 90 percent of Indonesians who understand the term LGBT feel "threatened" by the community and believe their religion forbids same-sex relations.


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