Indonesia passes penal code banning sex outside of marriage

On Tuesday, Indonesia’s parliament passed a new penal code that bans sex outside of marriage and carries a penalty of up to a year in prison.

The new law, passed with the support of all political parties, also bans cohabitation between unmarried couples.

The code applies to Indonesians and foreigners alike, and comes despite concerns that the laws could keep tourists out and harm investments.

It will not come into force for three years to allow for the drafting of regulations.

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Yasonna Laoly, Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights, receives the new criminal code report from Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision, during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Yasonna Laoly, Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights, receives the new criminal code report from Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision, during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.
(Reuters photos)

The country already bans adultery but has not done so for premarital sex.

Maulana Yusran, deputy head of Indonesia’s Tourism Industry Committee, said the new code was “completely counterproductive” at a time when the country’s economy and tourism were beginning to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We deeply regret that the government has closed its eyes. We have already expressed our concern to the Ministry of Tourism about how harmful this law is,” he said.

US Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim said at an investment summit that the new code could result in reduced foreign investment, tourism and travel to the country.

Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision, hands over the report of the new penal code to Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision, hands over the report of the new penal code to Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.
(Reuters photos)

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“The criminalization of individuals’ personal choices would play a large role in the decision matrix of many companies deciding whether to invest in Indonesia,” Kim said.

The code is part of several new laws critics say will enforce civil liberties, along with bans on black magic, insulting the president or state institutions, disseminating views against state ideology, and conducting protests without notice.

Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision of Indonesia's penal code, speaks during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Bambang Wuryanto, head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision of Indonesia’s penal code, speaks during a parliamentary plenary session in Jakarta, Indonesia.
(Reuters photos)

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Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly responded to criticism of the new law by telling parliament: “It is not easy for a multicultural and multiethnic country to enact a penal code that serves all interests.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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