It seems that it’s not only in Trump’s America that religious zealots have gained the power to force lawmakers to adopt regressive social policies.
We’ve just learned that, after extensive consultations with leaders of ‘all religions’, Indonesia’s government is set to pass a new penal code that criminalises consensual sex outside marriage.
And if this isn’t bad enough the Muslim-majority country plans to introduce stiff penalties for insulting its President, Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
The new criminal code, according to Reuters, is due to be adopted in the next week after parliament and the government agreed a final draft yesterday (Wednesday).
Lawmakers said that the new penal code, which would replace a Dutch colonial-era set of laws, was a long overdue expression of Indonesian independence and religiosity.
Said Nasir Djamil, above, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party.
The state must protect citizens from behavior that is contrary to the supreme precepts of God.
He said leaders of all religions had been consulted on the changes given that Indonesia’s founding ideology was based on belief in God.
Under the proposed laws, unmarried couples who “live together as a husband and wife” could be jailed for six months or face a maximum fine of 10 million rupiah ($710), which is three months’ salary for many Indonesians.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an NGO, said millions of Indonesians could be ensnared by the new laws. It noted a study indicating that 40 per cent of Indonesian adolescents engaged in pre-marital sexual activity.Tim Lindsey, above, Director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, said:
Across the board, this is a ratcheting up of conservatism. It’s extremely regressive.
A maximum one-year prison term also can be applied to a person who has sex with someone who is not their spouse and a close family member lodges a complaint.
The law also impacts homosexuals as gay marriage is not recognised in Indonesia.
The code also establishes prison terms for those found to commit “obscene acts”, defined as violating norms of decency and politeness through “lust or sexuality”, whether by heterosexuals or gay people.
The new laws will also apply to foreigners. However, asked whether tourists in Indonesia could face jail for extramarital sex, another lawmaker, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, said:
No problem, as long as people don’t know.
There would also be a maximum four-year prison term for women who have an abortion, applicable if there was no medical emergency or rape involved. The code further introduces fines for some people who promote contraception, and a six-month prison term for unauthorised discussion of “tools of abortion”.
Meanwhile, parliament has reintroduced the offence of “attacking the honour or dignity” of Indonesia’s President and Vice President. A similar law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2006, and the new version is likely to be challenged by rights activists as well.
Insulting the government and state institutions also carries a prison term.