Indonesia to make non-marital consensual sex a criminal offence, applies to foreigners too

The penalty is a jail term of up to a year.

Matthias Ang| September 19, 11:29 PM

Indonesia is set to pass a law that will criminalise consensual sex outside marriage and it will also apply to foreigners, Reuters reported.

Whether tourists in Indonesia could go to jail for extramarital sex, an Indonesian lawmaker, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, said: "No problem, as long as people don’t know."

The law is expected to be passed on Sep. 24, 2019.

Punishable with up to a year in prison

Under the proposed new law, extramarital sex is punishable with up to a year in prison, and couples can be subjected to prosecution if the complaint is lodged by a family member, CNN reported.

Additionally, unmarried couples who "live together as a husband and wife" will either be jailed for up to six months, or fined 10 million rupiah (S$978).

In this instance, a village chief can also file a complaint if the family does not object.

Teuku elaborated that the granting of power to village chiefs is because "the victim of adultery is also society".

Members of Indonesia's LGBT community could also be targeted under an article that criminalises "obscene acts" with a penalty of up to six months in prison.

Women who have an abortion will be jailed for up to four years

Women who have an abortion will also be imprisoned for up to four years, unless a medical emergency or rape was involved.

What's more, anyone who has helped a woman have an abortion will face a jail term of up to five years.

Fines will also be imposed on people who promote contraception, while unauthorised discussion of the "tools of abortion" carry a maximum sentence of six months.

Indonesian politicians voice support for the law

Nasir Djamil, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party, stated that the law was necessary and that leaders from all religions had been consulted on the changes.

He said: "The state must protect citizens from behaviour that is contrary to the supreme precepts of God."

Indonesia's Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, who re-introduced the bill in 2015, added that the law replaces a penal code, which is a century old from the Dutch colonial era, and updates it for the country's current reality.

She added, as per CNN: "We would like to change to our new penal code to focus more on Indonesian perspectives in the law. The reason is because there are some laws in the penal code that are not suitable for Indonesia any more."

NGOs slam law as regressive

Meanwhile, NGOs have slammed the law as regressive.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform said that millions of Indonesians could be caught by the new laws and highlighted a study that found that 40 per cent of Indonesian youth engaged in pre-marital activity, Reuters highlighted.

Andreas Harsono, a senior Indonesian researcher from Human Rights Watch, called the law a disaster for minorities in Indonesia.

He said the passing of the law "will confirm that Indonesia is now becoming an Islamic state" and further alleged that the law was largely based on Shariah law, sans the lashing.

Criticism also came from Asfinawati, the head of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation, who said the law was a setback for democracy.

She stated: "There are some articles that can easily put people into the jail and a lot of multi-interpretations on those articles."

Top photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash