(News investigators) Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, cleared a sweeping overhaul of its criminal code on Tuesday, outlawing sex outside of marriage, defamation of the president and sharply expanding its laws against blasphemy.
Sex outside of marriage, cohabitation and extra-marital affairs are now all illegal acts in Indonesia punishable by jail terms, after the country’s parliament passed controversial revisions to their criminal code.
The new rules, which also apply to foreigners in the country, have drawn criticism from human rights activists, businesspeople and students who warned of the risks posed to the L.G.B.T. community and religious minorities. Opponents also said that the rules threatened the global reputation that Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, has built as a tolerant, widely secular nation.
Indonesian officials say upgrading the existing criminal code, which dates back to 1918 when Indonesia was a Dutch colony, was long overdue. Among the raft of new laws, penalties around consensual sex outside marriage have drawn the most criticism.
According to the new law, unmarried couples who “live together as a husband and wife” could be jailed for six months or face a maximum fine of 10 million rupiah ($710).