Sex outside of marriage will result in a one-year jail sentence if lawmakers get their way tomorrow in Indonesia.
In some of the most Draconian measures introduced in the Southeast Asian nation for decades, lawmakers are set to ratify changes to its criminal code tomorrow. Critics predict will send Indonesia back to the Dark Ages.
The Semeru volcano erupted in Indonesia yesterday. It coughed its guts into the sky and forced the evacuation of nearly 2,000 people. If senior officials get their way it is expected a mass exodus from the nation of islands will be sparked.
But sex outside of marriage isn’t the only oppressive legislation the government is trying to push through. Revisions to the code will also try to outlaw unmarried couples living together, insulting the president, and expressing views counter to the national ideology, known as the Pancasila.
A plenary session tomorrow to ratify the new code will take place according to deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, and Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission.
The government and the House of Representatives have agreed on the draft code, clearing its passage.
This is not the first time Indonesia has tried to push these measures through. But, in recent years, every revision of the country’s penal code has sparked mass protests.
Parliament intended to ratify a new code in September 2019 but demonstrations over threats to civil liberties stopped it from going ahead.
Jakarta police fought with protesters at that time who were angry over a new corruption law and proposed penal code
Such strict laws on sex and relationships are not without precedent in parts of majority-Muslim Indonesia.
The province of Aceh enforces strict Islamic law and has punished people for gambling, drinking alcohol, and meeting members of the opposite sex.
In one case in 2021, neighbours denounced two men for having sex. They each received 77 lashes from a police officer in a public caning.
On the same day, a woman and man were each given 20 lashes for being caught in close proximity to each other, and two men were given 40 lashes each for getting drunk.
Legislators have since diluted some of the more controversial articles.
The revised articles on sex outside marriage and cohabitation, e.g., now state such complaints can only be reported by close relatives such as a spouse, parent or child while insulting the president can only be reported by the president.
Bizarrely, some legal experts and civil society groups say the changes don’t go far enough.
Bivitri Susanti, a law expert from the University of Indonesia, believes the criminal code is a huge setback for Indonesia.
“The state cannot manage morality. The government’s duty is not as an umpire between conservative and liberal Indonesia.
“Articles on customary law, blasphemy, protesting without notification and expressing views divergent from the Pancasila was all legally problematic because they could be widely interpreted.”
Once ratified, the new code will come into effect after three years as the government and related institutions draft related implementing regulations.
These men were publicly caned 83 times in Indonesia after being found in bed together. pic.twitter.com/qCpaUOEYRB
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 24, 2017
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