Indonesia could ban sex outside marriage as early as next week in a draconian new penal code that also includes tough penalties for abortion, black magic and insulting the president. It can impose a sentence of up to one year in prison for extramarital sex.
Rights groups have long warned that the new law, drawn up decades ago, would violate the rights of women, minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
However, Deputy Justice Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said: We were proud to have a penal code in line with Indonesian values.
If passed, the new rules will apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners, with business groups warning of its impact on the tourism industry, which is trying to recover from being battered by the Covid pandemic.
An attempt to introduce the code in 2019 was scrapped after nationwide protests. Bali, in particular, has traditionally been a top vacation destination, attracting millions of tourists every year.
Shinta Widjaja Sukamdani, vice president of the Indonesian Employers Association, said morality clauses would do more harm than good, especially for companies engaged in tourism and hospitality.
For the business sector, the implementation of this law will create legal uncertainty and cause investors to reconsider their investments in Indonesia, she said.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said hotels could be criminalized for accommodating unmarried couples. He warned: All hell will break loose.
The project has the backing of some Islamic groups, whose influence is growing in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
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