Tuesday saw the unanimous passage of a law in Indonesia outlawing extramarital sex. An annual prison sentence could be imposed for the crime.
Cohabitation before marriage is forbidden under the new code, which also applies to visitors and residents from other countries. According to CNN, the 200-page legislative document also forbids apostasy and specifies penalties for insulting the president or expressing opinions at odds with the country’s ideology.
The parliamentary commission in charge of updating the colonial-era code was led by lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto. “All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” he said. The old code is of Dutch ancestry and is no longer applicable.
Indonesia, a 270 million-strong Muslim-majority country, has seen a rise in religious conservatism recently. Strict Islamic laws, which forbid the consumption of alcohol and gambling, are already in place in some areas of the nation. A number of “offenses” that can lead to public flogging include homosexuality and adultery.
It is difficult for a multicultural and multiethnic nation like Indonesia to develop a criminal code that “accommodates all interests,” according to Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly.
He hopes that Indonesians are aware that lawmakers have made every effort to satisfy “public aspiration.”
In response, dissatisfied parties are encouraged to request a judicial review from the constitutional court.
Human rights activists have serious concerns about the new criminal code, particularly how it might stifle individual freedoms. The new code, according to critics and human rights organizations, will “disproportionately impact women” and further restrict freedoms and rights in the nation.
“What we are seeing is a significant setback to Indonesia’s hard-won advancement in safeguarding fundamental liberties and human rights following the 1998 revolution. Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said that this criminal code ought to have never been passed in the first place.
Representatives of the travel industry are also speaking out about the code’s potential impact on tourism.
The new regulations are anticipated to harm businesses, particularly those that frequently host and serve tourists and people from other countries.
For instance, Bali is a popular tourist destination and heavily depends on the income from the sector. Bali will be more affected by the law’s effects than many other areas because it is still recovering from the pandemic.
The laws would “make foreigners think twice” about visiting Indonesia, according to Putu Winastra, chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) in Bali, who spoke to CNN.
Putu questioned how the laws would be enforced and said, “From our point of view as players in the tourism industry, this law will be very troublesome.”
Should we inquire about their marital status from overseas unmarried couples? Do tourists who are married have to provide documentation? ” Did he ask.
Putu claimed that any attempts to draw visitors back to the island might be “counterproductive” in light of the laws.
He claimed that if the laws were actually put into effect, tourists might end up in jail, which would be bad for the industry.
Even though the law is strict, there are some restrictions on who can file a formal complaint. For instance, it is legal for the parents of children who are living together before getting married to report it.