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World: Indonesia passes new criminal code, outlaws sex outside marriage

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Indonesia has passed a controversial new Criminal Code that includes outlawing sex outside marriage and cohabitation, in changes that critics contend could undermine freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

Parliament passed the controversial law on Tuesday [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera Parliament passed the controversial law on Tuesday [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

The new laws apply to Indonesians and foreigners and also include a ban on insulting the president or state institutions.

The new criminal code replaces a framework that had been in use since independence in 1946 and was a mix of Dutch law, customary law known as hukum adat, and modern Indonesian law.

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“We have tried our best to accommodate the important issues and different opinions which were debated. 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,” Yasonna Laoly, minister of law and human rights, told parliament ahead of the vote.

The planned code sparked nationwide student-led protests when a full draft was released in September 2019, amid fears it would curtail personal freedoms. At least 300 people were hurt in the unrest which was also fuelled by concerns that new laws would undermine the fight against corruption.

Subsequent revisions have not been released in full.

Sex before marriage was not illegal in Indonesia before the code was passed, although adultery was. Under the new law, parents or children will be able to report unmarried couples to the police if they suspect them of having sex — something that critics have said is a move towards moral policing and could also be used to target members of the LGBTQ community, as same-sex marriage is illegal in Indonesia.

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Both sex before marriage and adultery will be punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine under the code.

Cohabitation will be punishable by six months in prison or a fine, although only if reported to the police by parents, children, or a spouse.

The criminal code can be challenged in the Constitutional Court if it is considered that the correct procedure was not followed before it was passed, including seeking relevant and transparent public participation.

Labour unions have used that approach to challenge the Jobs Creation Law, which was passed in October 2020 and deemed “unconstitutional” a year later. The government has been given two years to fix that legislation or risk it becoming permanently invalid.

Indonesia bans sex outside marriage in new criminal code .
By Ananda Teresia and Kate Lamb JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia's parliament approved a new criminal code on Tuesday that bans sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, despite worries the laws may scare away tourists from its tropical shores and harm investment. The new code, which will apply to Indonesians and foreigners alike, also prohibit cohabitation between unmarried couples. It will also ban insulting the president or state institutions, spreading views counter to the state ideology, and staging protests without notification.

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