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Indonesia’s law on extramarital affairs sends shockwaves on social media

Though tourists may be out of danger, LGBTQIA+ communities remain under threat

  • Amira Waworuntu
  • 8 December 2022
Indonesia’s law on extramarital affairs sends shockwaves on social media

Passed on December 6, 2022, Indonesia’s new criminal code has been making its rounds all over the internet. One particular law that’s caught the attention of locals and tourists alike is the one making consensual sex and cohabitation outside marriage a criminal offence.

As astoundingly regressive at it sounds, those found guilty of adultery can only be prosecuted on the complaint of direct family members, meaning no single-handed arrests by the police.

Tourists might not have it as hard, since authorities insist that foreign visitors won’t be affected by the “Bali bonk ban” — as deemed by netizens… Unless your own family reports you as an offender.

Despite the pseudo-clemency towards foreigners, many are still quite apprehensive towards how this affects the country’s tourism efforts. Deputy chief of Indonesia’s tourism industry board, Maulana Yusran, states the code as “totally counterproductive”, especially during a time when the economy and tourism are starting to revitalise.

The new law on criminalising consensual sex and cohabitation also calls for concern particularly from the country’s LGBTQIA+ communities.

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Same-sex marriage is still not allowed and shunned upon in Indonesia. With this new regulation, LGBTQIA+ family members are prone to criminalisation upon reports from spouses, parents and children of those who disapprove of their preferences.

However, other laws are also raking in scrutiny from Indonesia’s citizens, one of which criminalises the act of “insulting” the government and state institutions in the form of “criticism”.

Senior Indonesia researcher at Human Right watch, Andreas Harsono, underlines how “Indonesia’s new criminal code contains oppressive and vague provisions that open the door to invasions of privacy and selective enforcement that will enable the police to extort bribes, lawmakers to harass political opponents, and officials to jail ordinary bloggers.”

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Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has told parliament "It's not easy for a multicultural and multi-ethnic country to make a criminal code that can accommodate all interests,” in response to the somewhat never-ending criticism.

The new criminal code is said to start taking affect in 2025, meaning there’s still time for alterations and repeals if found necessary by the court.

[Via: Human Rights Watch and Reuters]

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