The controversial criminal code includes laws against insulting the president and banning extramarital sex has been approved by Indonesia’s parliament. Yes, according to the new laws having sex outside of marriage might result in a jail sentence of up to a year.
The new regulation which includes measures that can punish sex outside of marriage with prison time, and outlines prison sentences for couples who live together outside of wedlock.
According to the reports, the law also includes a ban on insulting the president or state institutions and expressing views deemed to be counter to state ideology. The bill also calls for a maximum jail time of three years for anyone who “attacks the dignity” of the president or vice president.
Any person insulting the government could be punished with up to 18 months in prison. If the offense leads to social unrest, the jail term could stretch to three years. Spreading “fake news” could hold a punishment of up to to six years in prison. On Monday, hundreds of Indonesians protested in several cities, demanding that the bill be scrapped. Meanwhile, rights groups have denounced the legislation as morality policing, and activists see it as a clampdown on civil and political freedoms.
The laws are criticised as a “disaster” for human rights and as a possible obstacle to tourism and investment.
Additionally, it will outlaw propagating ideas opposed to the state ideology, insulting the president or state institutions, and organising protests without permission.
Members of the House of Representatives approved the bill with support from all the major parties, amid flak from critics who say that it will threaten civic freedoms in the world’s largest Muslim country. The laws were passed with support from all political parties, according to the media reports.
CAN BE JAILED UPTO ONE YEAR
Although the criminal code has been ratified, it will not go into effect for three years. At present, Indonesia bans adultery but not premarital sex.
This week, a number of mostly young people’s groups protested against the legislation in front of the Jakarta parliament. It is expected that the new laws will face legal challenges.
Both residents and foreigners living in Indonesia or travelling to vacation spots like Bali must abide by them. Unmarried couples who are caught having sex may face up to a year in jail, according to the law.
“To abandon the colonial criminal code we inherited in the past, it is time for us to make a historical decision regarding the penal code change”.
“It is time for us to make a historical decision on the penal code amendment and to leave the colonial criminal code we inherited behind,” law minister Yasonna Laoly told parliament.
Although the government insists that foreigners visiting Bali won’t be impacted, Indonesian business organisations have criticised the article criminalising extramarital sex as hurting the country’s tourism industry.
Maulana Yusran, deputy chief of Indonesia’s tourism industry board, said the new code was “totally counter-productive” at a time when the economy and tourism were starting to recover from the pandemic.
“We deeply regret the government have closed their eyes. We have already expressed our concern to the ministry of tourism about how harmful this law is,” he said.
Foreign arrivals in the holiday destination of Bali are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of six million by 2025, the tourism association has said previously, as the island recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
TO TAKE EFFECT AFTER 3 YEARS
After three years, the new code—which still need President Joko Widodo’s approval—will go into effect.
“A wider concern for many is the laws about cohabitation before marriage, contained in articles 411-413. Under the new criminal code, it is illegal for two unmarried people to live together in the same home. However, the only people who can make a formal complaint are the parents or children of the accused”, indonesia expat reported.
“They are truly blind and deaf to criticism and public input. This is a sign that today’s power is really moving towards authoritarianism,” said Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Mulawarman University, Herdiansyah Hamzah.
“The regime will exercise total control over the freedom of its citizens. The Criminal Code, which contains rubber articles, will be used as a tool to silence those who are critical of power,” he continued.
Rights groups have said that the proposals in the bill highlight a growing shift towards fundamentalism in Indonesia, which has secularism enshrined in its constitution. There are also concerns that these rules could have a major impact on the LGBTQ community in the country, where same-sex marriage is illegal. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, barring the semi-autonomous Aceh province, but is generally considered taboo.
In an interview a a 28-year-old woman named Ajeng, living in the West Java city of Depok, said she was now at risk for living with her partner for the past five years.
“With the new law, both of us can go to jail if one of the family decides to make a police report,” she told the BBC.
“What if there’s one family member who has a problem with me and decides to send me to jail?
“I think living together or having sex outside of marriage is not a crime. In my religion, it’s considered a sin. But I don’t think the criminal code should be based on a certain religion.”
She said she had joined the nationwide protests in 2019 when the law had first been broached. She took the sign: “For the right to cuddle, I took to the streets.”
However on Tuesday, parliament unanimously approved the new code of over 600 articles.
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