Indonesia to jail sex outside of marriage for up to a year

Jakarta: Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass a new penal code this month that would criminalize extramarital sex with up to a year in prison, officials have confirmed.

The revision of the legislation will also prohibit insulting the president or state institutions and expressing opinions contrary to Indonesian state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also prohibited.

Student groups demonstrated in 2019 against proposed changes to Indonesia’s penal code that would ban sex outside marriage.Credit:Getty Images

Decades in the making, the new penal code is expected to be approved on Dec. 15, Indonesia’s deputy justice minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said.

“We are proud to have a penal code that is in line with Indonesian values,” he said in an interview.

Bambang Wuryanto, a lawmaker involved in the draft, said the new code could be passed as early as next week.

The code, if passed, would apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners, with business groups raising concerns about the potential damage the rules could do to Indonesia’s image as a holiday and investment destination.

The bill has the support of some Islamist groups in a country where conservatism is on the rise, though opponents say it reverses liberal reforms introduced after the fall of authoritarian leader Suharto in 1998.

An earlier draft of the code was due to pass in 2019, but sparked nationwide protests. At the time, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against a slew of laws, especially those regulating morality and freedom of expression, which they believed curtailed civil liberties.

Critics say minimal changes have been made to the code since then, although the government has held public consultations across the country in recent months to provide information on the changes.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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