Indonesian lawmakers on Tuesday passed a sweeping new penal code that criminalizes sex outside of marriage, part of a series of changes that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms in the Asian country. from the South East.
The new code, which also applies to foreign residents and tourists, prohibits cohabitation before marriage, apostasy and provides penalties for insulting the president or expressing opinions contrary to the national ideology.
“All have agreed to ratify the (draft amendments) into law,” said lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who headed the parliamentary committee tasked with revising the colonial-era code. “The old code belongs to the Dutch heritage… and is no longer relevant.”
The crime of blasphemy, already on Indonesian books, now carries a five-year prison sentence.
Rights groups and critics have warned that the new code will “disproportionately impact women” and further restrict human rights and freedoms in the Muslim-majority country of more than 270 million people.
A previous draft code was due to be passed in 2019, but was postponed after nationwide protests.
Human Rights Watch Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono warned that the laws were open to exploitation.
“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they will be widely enforced, it’s that they offer the possibility of selective enforcement,” he said.
Harsono called the new laws “a setback for Indonesia’s already declining religious freedom”, warning that “non-believers could be prosecuted and imprisoned”.
This is a developing story. More soon.