Indonesia votes to ban extramarital sex, prohibit insulting leaders

The code also alters the death penalty and criminalizes spreading communism.

Updated: December 6, 2022 - 11:01am

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Indonesia's Parliament on Tuesday voted to revise the country's penal code to criminalize all sex outside of marriage and to prohibit insulting the president, vice president and state institutions or ideology.

Indonesia, which is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, also expanded existing blasphemy laws and maintained a five-year prison sentence for people who deviate from the nation's recognized religions of Islam, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, the Associated Press reported.

Parliament maintained the part of the code criminalizing abortions but added exceptions to save a mother's life and for rape if the fetus is at less than 12 weeks of gestation.

Additionally, the revised code states that citizens can face up to 10 years in prison for being associated with Marxist-Leninist organizations and up to four years behind bars for spreading communism.

Insults against a president must be reported by the president and can carry a three-year prison sentence.

The new code still maintains the death penalty but added in a probationary period. If a convict behaves well for 10 years, they will be eligible for 20 years to life in prison, rather than execution.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to sign the legislation, but even without his signature, the code automatically goes into effect after 30 days unless he chooses to cancel it.

Even couples married in certain religious ceremonies, such as Indigenous peoples, could face punishment under Indonesia's law against extramarital sex. 

"These people will be theoretically breaking the law as living together could be punished up to six months in prison," Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsano told the BBC.

The law will apply equally to locals, foreigners and tourists, and unmarried couples caught having sex face up to a year in prison.