Indonesia to criminalise sex outside marriage

Editorial credit: iyas.zi /

Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass a new law this month that will punish sex outside marriage with up to one year in jail.

The new criminal code is expected to be passed on December 15, Indonesia’s deputy justice minister, Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, confirmed to the media. Cohabitation before marriage will also be banned.

But punishment for adultery can only take effect if there are parties who lodge complaints to the authorities. For those who are married, the party entitled to lodge a complaint is the perpetrator’s husband or wife.

The law also allows the parents of unmarried people to report them for having sex.

Cohabitation before marriage will also be banned and those convicted could face a six-month prison sentence.

The criminalisation of abortion, with the exception of rape victims, and imprisonment for “black magic,” remain in the code.

The code will apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners alike and has the support of Islamic groups in a country where Islamic sentiment is on the rise.

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“We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” Hiariej told Reuters.

Business groups have expressed concern about the damage the rules might do to Indonesia’s image as a holiday and investment destination.

The changes to the code would be a “huge a setback to Indonesian democracy”, said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch.

But the deputy justice minister dismissed the criticism, saying the final version of the draft would ensure that regional laws adhered to national legislation, and the new code would not threaten democratic freedoms.

Although Indonesia has been run on secular basis since independence, the province of Aceh enforces 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.

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