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Indonesia to ban sex before marriage, defaulters to be imprisoned

Indonesia’s new criminal code would see sex outside marriage punished with a jail sentence.

Kiwis holidaying in Bali could find themselves falling foul of a strict new sex law set to be passed in the coming weeks.

Indonesia’s new criminal code would see sex outside marriage punished with a jail sentence.

A previous attempt to enshrine the strict new morality laws failed after widespread protests in the country of 280 million people.

“We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” Indonesia’s deputy justice minister, Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, told news agency Reuters.

The Muslim-majority country has a wide range of regional laws and customs.

The province of Aceh, in the country’s north, enforces sharia law. While Bali, Indonesia’s top tourist destination and a Hindu-majority province, is more liberal.

Nonetheless, the new laws will apply throughout the country and to Indonesians and visitors alike.

It could also see people break the law for living together before marriage and insulting the President.

Some death penalty sentences will be allowed to be commuted to life imprisonment for good behaviour.

The proposals could be signed into law by President Joko Widodo by mid-December.

A draft of the new laws states that while sex outside marriage would be banned it could only be reported to authorities by a limited number of parties, such as close relatives.

That caveat may provide some protection for Kiwi citizens who visit or live in the country.

But it won’t shield them from being convicted if a close relative reports them to the authorities.

A maximum one-year prison sentence could be imposed.

Indonesia’s Employers’ Association deputy chairwoman Shinta Widjaja Sukamdani told Reuters the new laws would “do more harm than good” in the tourism sector.

“For the business sector, the implementation of this customary law shall create legal uncertainty and make investors reconsider investing in Indonesia,” she said.

The new criminal code was supposed to come into force in 2019 but led to nationwide protests in Indonesia. Its implementation was then delayed while the government consulted further and made changes to the bill.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, aside from in Aceh, but in many places is heavily frowned upon.

Critics have said the laws on not cohabiting unless married will lead to LGBTI couples being targeted given gay marriage isn’t allowed.

This week, two Indonesian soldiers were sent to jail for seven months for having sex between men which is explicitly banned in the military.

Jakarta’s move comes as some countries in the region are moving in the other direction.

Taiwan has become the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage. While this week Singapore, which neighbours Indonesia, decriminalised sex between men. Although it has blocked full marriage equality.


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