On Tuesday, the Indonesian parliament passed a new criminal code that includes a one-year jail sentence for engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.
When extramarital sex and living together were made illegal, the international media reacted right away.
The new law imposes a maximum penalty of one year in prison for engaging in sexual activity with a person other than one’s spouse and a penalty of six months in prison for cohabitating with someone other than one’s spouse.
Visitors to Indonesia need not worry about facing criminal charges for having sex or living with someone they are not married to.
Deputy chairman of Indonesia’s tourist industry board, Maulana Yusran called the new rule “absolutely counter-productive” as the country’s economy and tourism sector began to recover from the pandemic.
kick (Bali) when (Bali) is down
People on Bali are slowly but surely returning to work as the island tries to prevent further tragedy from the looming pandemic that has already destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families.
Scare tactics in the media, such as omitting important information and using misleading headlines, are, to put it mildly, ineffective. And they make no useful contributions to the critical discussion about these changes that must take place.
One can only hope that these journalists seeking clicks realize that their actions have real consequences.
Meanwhile, Indonesia is trying to get more “digital nomads” to settle in the country by offering a 10-year Second Home Visa.
However, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim warned of a possible drop in investment, tourism, and travel to Indonesia as a consequence of the news during a recent investment meeting.
He claimed that many corporations and digital nomads would think twice about investing in Indonesia if the government criminalized people for their own choices.
At a press conference in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the country was evaluating the legislation but that the implementing rules hadn’t been written yet.
“However, we are worried about how these changes might affect Indonesians’ freedom to enjoy their human rights and other basic rights.” “The potential effects of this legislation on American people traveling to or residing in Indonesia and on the business environment for American enterprises, are likewise of concern to us.”
He said, “We aim to work together with Indonesia to resist prejudice and intolerance.” “Indonesia is a valued democratic partner of the United States.”
The new morality rules in Indonesia include restrictions on who may file a complaint, such as the offender’s parents, spouse, or children, according to justice ministry spokesman Albert Aries.
“The goal is to safeguard the institution of marriage and Indonesian values while also being able to protect the privacy of the community and also negate the rights of the public or other third parties to report this situation or ‘play judge’ on behalf of morality,” he added.
There has been a wave of new legislation passed in the world’s third-largest democracy, and many people are concerned that it might have a chilling effect on civil liberties.
Prohibitions against witchcraft are only one more example of the law.
Several prominent publications published editorials condemning the new legislation. The Jakarta Post expressed “”concern” about the implementation of the regulations, while the daily newspaper Koran Tempo stated the code had “authoritarian” tones.
Legislators finally passed the criminal code after decades of debate, and it was lauded as a necessary update to an outdated colonial holdover.
The head of the parliamentary commission in charge of changing the code, Bambang Wuryanto, said that the old code came from the Dutch and was no longer useful.
Many rights groups and dissidents are against this measure because they think it would stifle free speech and be a “major setback” for protecting democratic freedoms after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998.
Meanwhile, women’s rights advocates have voiced concerns that the new criminal code would be used to prosecute victims of sexual harassment and limit their access to reproductive healthcare.
According to Citra Referandum, a civil rights lawyer from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), “when the victim speaks out, then reports abuse, the perpetrator may report her back using the cohabitation article to prosecute the victim, since it might be believed that she had sex before marriage.” Referandum, remarked, “This is not just a setback but a death for Indonesia’s democracy.”
Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly responded to the criticism by telling parliament, “It’s not simple for a multicultural and multi-ethnic society to develop a criminal code that can meet all interests.”
An provision in the code on customary law, according to legal experts, might strengthen discriminatory and sharia-inspired municipal legislation, particularly those that target LGBT people.
According to Bivitri Susanti of the Indonesia Jentera School of Law, “Regulations that are not in accordance with human rights principles will occur in conservative areas,” specifically citing the existence of bylaws in some regions that impose curfews on women or target what are described as “deviant” sexualities.
The penalties for corruption under the new legislation will be less severe.
Since spouses, parents, and children are now the only people who may file morals charges, this provision has been significantly whittled down from the original text of the law.
Protests around the country in 2019 prevented the government from enacting a change of the country’s penal code, which dates back to colonial times.
Some of the clauses have since been watered down, and President Joko Widodo has been pressuring parliament to enact the law this year before the political atmosphere in the nation heats up ahead of the presidential elections in early 2024.
Monday and Tuesday, there were small protests in the capital, but overall, people haven’t been talking much about the new laws.