Sex outside marriage is set to become a crime in Indonesia, following a proposal by lawmakers this week.
If the revision to the criminal code is passed by Parliament, sexual acts involving unmarried persons and gay sex in any form would be punishable by up to five years in prison.
Sex outside marriage is already considered a crime in Indonesia’s Aceh province, where strict Shariah law is implemented and those who violate it are whipped in public.
Rights groups and legal experts fear this will set back human rights and privacy in Indonesia, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people.
They are racing to organize opposition, and an online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
‘Indonesia, whose constitution guarantees human rights and has ratified many human rights covenants, will be ridiculed by the world for creating a law that is potentially violating many of those rights,’ said Said Muhammad Isnur, head of advocacy at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation.
While the possible criminalization of sex between unmarried consenting adults has grabbed attention, the revised criminal code, which has nearly 800 articles, also contains changes that could weaken checks and balances in Indonesia’s young democracy.
One article potentially makes criticism of the president defamation and other articles could be used to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission, one of Indonesia’s most effective public institutions.