On Tuesday, December 5, Indonesian lawmakers approved a comprehensive new criminal code that makes having sex outside of marriage a crime.
Cohabitation before marriage and apostasy are prohibited by the new law, which also applies to international residents and visitors. It also imposes penalties for insulting the president or expressing opinions that are incompatible with the country’s philosophy.
“All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” said lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who led the parliamentary commission in charge of revising the colonial-era code.
“The old code belongs to Dutch heritage … and is no longer relevant.”
Indonesia with a population of 270million people is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and has seen a rise in religious conservatism in recent years. Strict Islamic laws are already enforced in parts of the country, including the semi-autonomous Aceh province, where alcohol and gambling are banned.
It is normal for public floggings to take place in Indonesia for a range of offenses including homosexuality and adultery.
A previous draft of the code was set to be passed in 2019 but was postponed after nationwide protests prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to intervene. In a televised address at the time, Widodo said he decided to delay the vote after “seriously considering feedback from different parties who feel objections on some substantial content of the criminal code.”
Under the new law, sex outside marriage carries a potential one-year prison term, and the crime of blasphemy, already on Indonesia’s books, could now lead to a five-year prison sentence.