Indonesian parliament approves legislation banning sex outside marriage

© Adek Berry, AFP

Indonesia's parliament approved Tuesday legislation that would outlaw extra-marital sex while making other sweeping changes to the criminal code – a move critics described as a setback to the country's freedoms.

After the controversial new criminal code received the majority of votes from lawmakers during the plenary session, deputy house speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad banged the gavel to signal the text was approved and shouted "legal".

Rights groups had protested against the amendments, denouncing a crackdown on civil liberties and a shift towards fundamentalism in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

"We have tried our best to accommodate the important issues and different opinions which were debated. However, it is time for us to make a historical decision on the penal code amendment and to leave the colonial criminal code we inherited behind," Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Law and Human Rights, told parliament.

Some of the most controversial articles in the newly passed code are criminalising premarital and extra-marital sex, as well as the cohabitation of unmarried couples.

There are also fears these rules could have a major impact on the LGBTQ community in Indonesia where gay marriage is not allowed.

The spokesperson of the Law and Human Rights Ministry's criminal code bill dissemination team, Albert Aries, defended the amendments before the vote and said the law would protect marriage institutions.


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