New laws proposed by Indonesia to ban sex between unmarried couples are a “human rights disaster” for LGBTIQ people, advocates say.
Human rights groups have slammed a bill extensively overhauling Indonesia’s criminal code. The parliament will likely vote on the bill before the end of the month.
The bill would make consensual sex between unmarried adults in the Muslim-majority country a crime and also make unmarried couples living together illegal. Couples could face prosecution if a close family member complains to police.
The offences would attract prison time of six months and one year respectively or a fine of 10 million rupiah ($AU1,045).
The laws don’t specifically mention same-sex conduct. But the lack of recognition for same-sex relationships in Indonesia means gay sex would be effectively illegal.
Activists have called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo (pictured) to delay and revise the bill. Human Rights Watch said many of the new provisions would punish the Indonesian LGBTIQ community.
“Indonesia’s draft criminal code is disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians,” Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono said.
Harsono said the Indonesian parliament should “substantially revise the proposed new criminal code to meet international human rights standards.”
‘Highly regressive’ laws would expose the LGBTIQ community to persecution in Indonesia
Also among the long list of new laws is Article 421, which would punish “obscene acts” in public with a penalty of up to six months in prison. Human Rights Watch warns this provision could be used to target LGBTIQ people.
Activists have also slammed other provisions in the bill for violating the rights of women and religious minorities as well as freedom of speech and association.
Melbourne University’s Professor Tim Lindsey told the Sydney Morning Herald the current Indonesian parliament seemed to be in an “insane rush” to pass the new “highly regressive” criminal code.
“The extramarital sex provision is new to Indonesia,” Lindsey said.
“It will create huge problems for foreigners if it’s enforced, though Indonesia is awash with laws that are never enforced.
“Will tourists have to take marriage certificates to Indonesia? This also exposes foreigners to extortion.
“It would be easy for a police officer in Bali to say you aren’t married, you have to pay me. That’s a quite likely scenario.”
If passed in the country’s parliament, the laws would come into effect over the next two years.
Lindsey said he believed Australia would update its travel advice for Indonesia if the laws do pass.
“It’s a very real risk and they will have to warn the more than one million Aussies who travel there each year,” he said.
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