Indonesia bans extramarital sex

The controversial reform approved this Tuesday of the Indonesian penal code, the broadest in the history of the archipelago, includes articles that set back decades the country with the most Muslims in the world in terms of sexual, religious and expression freedoms, prohibiting extramarital sex, apostasy or defame the leaders, among others.

The Indonesian Parliament approved this extensive reform of the penal code with broad party support despite protests against it since 2019, when a threat was made to give it the green light.

Among the most criticized clauses are the prohibition of sex outside of marriage in any of its forms with up to one year in prison, as well as the punishment of insulting the president with a maximum of three years in prison, in addition to the outlawing of apostasy. .

The Indonesian Parliament approves the reform despite the protests against it

Although there is no direct mention of homosexual relationships, they are de facto prohibited, since marriages are only allowed in the country for people of the opposite sex, and the reform criminalizes any sexual relationship outside the conjugal bed. It also prohibits cohabitation outside of marriage, which can carry a maximum of six months in prison.After its approval, a period of “about two years” opens in which the reform can be challenged in the country’s constitutional court, explained Alif Nurwidiastomi, of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, who discredited the process for ” the links” between said court and the Government and believes that it will end up being implemented.

The reform has generated protests since there was an intention to approve it three years ago, when it was paralyzed after massive demonstrations in the country, while dozens of people have demonstrated against it since Monday in front of Parliament in Jakarta.

Almost a hundred NGOs denounced in a statement on Monday that its content is “undemocratic” due to the suppression of freedoms that it entails, in what represents the most extensive reform of the penal code since the independence of Indonesia from the Netherlands in 1945.

“Islamization” of the country

His detractors condemn the “Islamization” of the Muslim-majority country, which had passed the dark period of the Suharto dictatorship (1967-1998).

The reform includes for the first time the consideration of apostasy as a crime and expands the already existing laws against blasphemy, urging to prosecute those who express public opinions or commit “hostile acts” against the religions professed in Indonesia with up to 5 years in prison.

It also punishes insulting the president and vice president of the country with a maximum of three years in prison, and prohibits peaceful protests without prior permission, with penalties of up to six months in prison.

Up to four years in prison for women who abort 

Although abortion was already illegal in most cases in Indonesia, with exceptions such as rape, the new penal code increases the punishment for women who abort with sentences of up to four years in prison. Likewise, it limits physicians’ power to discuss contraceptive measures, and includes prison sentences for those who promote them to minors under 18 years of age.

By contrast, the death penalty and punishments for corruption fare exceptionally better after the reform. Capital punishment remains legal in Indonesia for some crimes, although the reform provides for a ten-year “probationary period” on those sentenced during the which can be replaced by life imprisonment or twenty years in prison if a judge so decides.

In this more compromising line, the punishments for crimes of corruption are penalized with a minimum of two years in prison, out of the four that until now were contemplated. The maximum penalty remains 20 years in prison in such cases.