Parliament Votes to Outlaw Extramarital Affairs

Human rights organizations and Indonesian business groups worry about the fallout
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2022 4:15 PM CST
Updated Dec 10, 2022 12:55 PM CST
Parliament Nears Outlawing Adultery, Insulting President
Wearing latex gloves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, bride Elma Diyani, right, and groom Octavianus Kristianto exchange rings during their wedding ceremony in Pamulang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, in June 2020.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
UPDATE Dec 6, 2022 12:47 AM CST

Indonesian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to criminalize adultery. Parliament unanimously approved the penal code revision, which must still be signed by the president and will then take effect sometime in the next three years, the AP reports. "(The new Criminal Code) has a lot of implementing regulations that must be worked out, so it’s impossible in one year, but remember the maximum (transition period) is three years," says the country's deputy minister of law and human rights. As expected, parliament also voted to restore a ban on insulting a sitting president or vice president, state institutions, and national ideology.

Dec 3, 2022 4:15 PM CST

Human rights activists are concerned about legislation nearing passage in Indonesia that would criminalize sex outside marriage and prohibit insulting state institutions or the nation's president. The adultery law would apply to foreigners in Indonesia as well, the BBC reports, and call for imprisonment for as long as a year. The measure, which lawmakers say could be approved next week, requires complaints to be filed before authorities can take action. The reports can come from a married offender's spouse. Parents also could report that their children are having sex. Anyone convicted of cohabitation before marriage could be given six months in prison.

Under the insult provisions, only the president could report a violation, which would qualify for a three-year prison term. Expressing views opposed to the ideology of Indonesia also would be against the law. An Amnesty International Indonesia official counted at least "88 articles containing broad provisions that could be misused and misinterpreted by both authorities and the public to criminalize those who peacefully express their opinions or exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and association," Nurina Savitri said. The changes by the nation's parliament would be a "huge setback to Indonesian democracy," Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said, per the Guardian.

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Business groups are concerned that the measures could deter tourists and investors. "For the business sector, the implementation of this customary law shall create legal uncertainty and make investors reconsider investing in Indonesia," said an official with the Employers' Association. A deputy justice minister told Reuters that he expects the changes to be approved and that he welcomes them. "We're proud to have a criminal code that's in line with Indonesian values," he said. (More Indonesia stories.)

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