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Indonesia passes bill that punishes sex outside marriage

The Indonesian parliament on Tuesday passed a new criminal code that criminalizes sex outside marriage.

Jakarta, 6 December 2022 (dpa/MIA) — The Indonesian parliament on Tuesday passed a new criminal code that criminalizes sex outside marriage.

Members of the House of Representatives approved the bill by acclamation in a plenary session, despite criticism that it will threaten civic freedoms in the world’s largest Muslim country.

The law will take effect in 2025, three years after it is passed.

“This has been 59 years in waiting,” said Edward Omar Sharief, deputy law and human rights minister, adding that the old criminal code was a leftover from Dutch colonial rule.

On Monday, hundreds of Indonesians rallied in several cities, demanding parliament scrap the bill. More protests are expected in the wake of its passage.

“Indonesia proposes to move down path of rights-abusing disaster by criminalizing sex outside of marriage,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter earlier in the week.

The bill stipulates that sex outside of marriage is punishable by one year in prison and couples who live together out of wedlock could face six months in prison.

But for police to be able to open a criminal investigation into such acts, a family member should file a complaint, a provision seen as a compromise to appease both conservatives and liberals.

Sex outside marriage, including homosexuality, is currently not a crime, but it is seen as a taboo in conservative Indonesia.

Only in sharia-ruled Aceh province it is outlawed and offenders could receive up to 100 lashes of the cane.

The bill also calls for a maximum of three years in prison for anyone who “attacks the dignity” of the president or vice president.

Those who insult the government could face up to 18 months in jail or three years if the offense causes social unrest.

Meanwhile, spreading fake news is punishable by up to six years in prison.

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