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Indonesia poised to criminalize extramarital sex

Indonesian students react as police officers stand guard during a protest against proposed changes to the nation's criminal code in September, 2019. A new version of the proposed code could pass Indonesia's legislature as early as next week. File Photo by EPA-EFE/MAST IRHAM
Indonesian students react as police officers stand guard during a protest against proposed changes to the nation's criminal code in September, 2019. A new version of the proposed code could pass Indonesia's legislature as early as next week. File Photo by EPA-EFE/MAST IRHAM

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Indonesia is set to criminalize extramarital sex as part of a new legal code that would see violators imprisoned for up to a year.

The measure comes as part of a significant proposed overhaul of the the Indonesian legal code, which forbids cohabitation by unmarried couples and includes penalties of up to three years imprisonment for insulting the president. The code also allows for the prosecution of individuals deemed to have insulted state institutions.

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Conservatives in Indonesia have championed the changes, while critics say they reverse many of the legal protections that were gained after the fall of the dictatorial government of Suharto in 1998.

Human rights advocates fear that references to "living laws" in the text could be used to enforce local regulations that are discriminatory against religious minorities and LGBTQ citizens.

A previous version of the code was proposed in 2019, but sparked nationwide protests from citizens who were angry that personal freedoms would be stripped away with its implementation. The backlash caused President Joko Widodo to ax the measure pending "further study."

The current Indonesian criminal code is largely based on the structure of the Dutch colonial government which ruled Indonesia until independence in 1949. The new version of the legal code could pass the Indonesian legislature as early as next week.

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