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Indonesia set to criminalize consensual sex outside marriage

Experts say 'millions' of people could face jail under the Muslim country's new penal code

Muhammad A.F/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Indonesia's government is pushing through a sweeping new penal code aimed at cracking down on behavior determined to be offensive to the country's majority-Muslim culture, and is set to outlaw consensual sex outside marriage as part of the package.

What are the details?

Reuters reported that four parliamentarians confirmed the new criminal code "is due to be adopted in the next week," and the final version includes a law that would make it illegal for citizens to have sex with a person other than their spouse. Violators could be sent to prison for up to one year.

According to the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, millions of Indonesians could face prosecution under the pending law. The organization pointed to a study showing that 40 percent of adolescents in the country have had pre-marital sexual relations — and that's just the young people in a country with a population of more than 250 million.

The Associated Press reported last year that the revisions to Indonesia's criminal code were pushed by the country's Islamic political parties, who are using "moral conservatism' to "rouse their base."

In addition to criminalizing sex between unmarried people, the new penal code also includes a law handing prison terms to anyone found guilty of insulting the president, vice president, government or state institutions. Further, any woman found guilty of having an abortion could face four years behind bars.

Anything else?

Australian outlet the ABC reported last month that Indonesia's military and law enforcement are particularly targeting the LGBT community, conducting raids on gay spas and even private homes. The news organization wrote, "State-sanctioned homophobia has become commonplace in Indonesia in recent years, amid what many observers say is a rapid rise in religious conservatism."

One last thing…
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