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BREAKING INDONESIA: Planning to ban sex outside of marriage as part of changes to its criminal code

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.05: 2022:

#AceBreakingNews – Indonesia is expected to ratify sweeping changes to its criminal code, according to senior officials, in a legal overhaul that critics say could wind back hard-won democratic freedoms and begin policing morality.

A view of Jakarta's skyline.
Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass changes to its criminal code on Tuesday. (Reuters: Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana)none

The legislative overhaul would ban sex outside of marriage with up to one year in jail and outlaw cohabitation between unmarried couples, insulting the president and expressing views counter to the national ideology, known as the Pancasila.

Deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Sufmi Dasco Ahmad and Bambang Wuryanto, who is head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the revision, said parliament would hold a plenary session on Tuesday to ratify the new code.

The government and House of Representatives have agreed on the draft code, clearing a hurdle to its passage.

Decades in the making, the revision of the country’s colonial-era penal code has sparked mass protests in recent years. 

Daniel Winarta, a University of Indonesia student, was among a small crowd of protesters that gathered outside parliament in Jakarta on Monday.

“On cohabitation, for example, it’s clearly a private matter,” he said. “We will keep rejecting this.”

Parliament had planned to ratify a draft new code in September 2019, but it was halted after nationwide demonstrations over perceived threats to civil liberties.

Legislators in the world’s third-largest democracy have since watered down some of the articles deemed most contentious.

Revised articles on sex outside marriage and cohabitation, for example, now state such complaints can only be reported by close relatives, such as a spouse, parent or child, while insulting the president can only be reported by the president.

However, legal experts and civil society groups say the changes do not go far enough.

“This criminal code is a huge setback for Indonesia,” Indonesia Jentera school of law’s Bivitri Susanti said. 

“The state cannot manage morality. 

“The government’s duty is not as an umpire between conservative and liberal Indonesia.”

Articles on customary law, blasphemy, protesting without notification and expressing views divergent from the Pancasila were all legally problematic because they could be widely interpreted, Ms Susanti said.

Once ratified, the new code will come into effect after three years as the government and related institutions draft related implementing regulations.

REUTERS

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