Indonesia’s parliament on Tuesday approved legislation that would outlaw sex outside marriage in a move critics said was a huge setback to rights in the world’s most populous Muslim country.
After the new criminal code was endorsed by all nine parties in a sweeping overhaul of the legal code, deputy house speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad banged the gavel to signal the text was approved and shouted “legal.”
A revision of Indonesia’s criminal code, which stretches back to the Dutch colonial era, has been debated for decades. Rights groups had protested against the amendments, denouncing a crackdown on civil liberties and political freedoms, as well as a shift towards fundamentalism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, where secularism is enshrined in the constitution.
“We have tried our best to accommodate the important issues and different opinions which were debated,” Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Law and Human Rights, told parliament. However, 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.”
A provision in the text, which still needs to be signed by the president, states the new criminal code will be applicable in three years. Some of the most controversial articles in the newly passed code criminalise extra-marital sex, as well as the cohabitation of unmarried couples.
According to the text seen by AFP, illegal cohabitation will have a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment, and sex outside of marriage will be punished with one year in prison.