JAKARTA – From today in Indonesia, having sex outside of marriage is a crime that carries sentences of up to one year in prison. The Indonesian Parliament has approved controversial amendments to the Penal Code that criminalize sex between unmarried people, which according to many represent an attack on citizens’ civil and political liberties.
The new rules banning cohabitation before marriage and prohibiting insults to the president and state institutions, as well as the expression of opinions in contrast with the Indonesian state ideology, known as “Pancasila” also passed with a majority of votes .
Indonesian politics has been working on penal code reform for decades. Commenting on the rumors, the Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej he had said in recent days that he was “proud to have a penal code in line with Indonesian values”.
The authorities justify the tightening with the need to protect “marital institutions”. And they argue that it will have limited effects as sexual acts outside marriage can be reported “only by spouses, parents or children”.
Many civil rights groups have denounced the new rules as a very strong limitation on citizens’ freedoms and a dangerous drift towards religious fundamentalism in a country with an overwhelmingly Muslim majority.
The Pancasila ideology, on which the Indonesian state is founded, is divided into five fundamental pillars: faith in the one God; justice and human civilization; the unity of Indonesia; democracy guided by the inner wisdom of humanity, which is expressed in the deliberative acts of its representatives; and social justice for the Indonesian people.