Sex outside marriage becomes a crime in Indonesia, where Parliament approved a new penal code that criminalizes sexual relations other than between married people. The new code, which also applies to foreign residents and tourists, prohibits cohabitation before marriage, apostasy and provides for punishments for those who insult the president or express opinions contrary to the national ideology. The crime of blasphemy, already foreseen in Indonesia, now carries a possible five-year prison sentence.
“Everyone agreed to ratify the law,” said MP Bambang Wuryanto who headed the parliamentary commission charged with revising the penal code in force since the colonial era. “The old code belongs to Dutch heritage,” he added.
Rights activists and critics have warned that the new penal code will have “a disproportionate impact on women” and further curtail human rights and freedoms in the Muslim-majority country, home to over 270 million people .
According to the new penal code approved by the Parliament of Jakarta, those who have extramarital affairs risk up to a year in prison while couples who live together without being married can be sentenced to six months in prison. The only ‘compromise’ reached between the liberals and the conservatives, so to speak, is that, in order to open a criminal proceeding, a formal denunciation is necessary. Until now, sex outside marriage, like homosexuality, was not banned in Indonesia, but was taboo. An exception is the province of Aceh where Sharia, Islamic law, is in force and where extramarital sex was already a crime punishable by a hundred lashes.
Among the other changes to the penal code approved by the deputies, there is also a three-year prison sentence for anyone who ”attacks the dignity” of the president or vice president. Those who insult the government, on the other hand, risk up to 18 months in prison or three years in prison if the allegations lead to street protests. Furthermore, spreading false news becomes a crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to six years in prison.