Indonesia Outlaws Sex Outside Marriage

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    The Facts

    • On Tuesday, Indonesia’s parliament unanimously approved a new criminal code making premarital sex, adultery, and live-in relationships punishable by up to a year in prison.

    • Albert Aries, Indonesia’s law and human rights ministry spokesperson, defended the widely-criticized amendments, saying they "protect marriage institutions.” He added that only a spouse, parent or child could report acts of extramarital sex.

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The new law is simply morality policing aimed at suppressing free speech, civil liberties, religious freedom, and legitimate criticism. Not only does it disproportionately affect women, the LGBTQ community, and ethnic minorities in the country, the new criminal code severely dents Indonesia’s image as a tourism and investment destination.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Indonesia is a multicultural and multi-ethnic country. The government has done its best to accommodate all interests. For instance, the law maintains that abortion is a crime but adds exceptions for women with life-threatening medical conditions and in cases of rape. Gay sex is also still legal. Indonesia's attempt to break away from its colonial living legacy needs to be celebrated, not outrightly dismissed.

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