Indonesian lawmaker says foreigners ‘need not worry’ about RKUHP article on extramarital sex

Indonesia welcomed nearly 16 million foreign visitors last year. Photo: Pixabay
Indonesia welcomed nearly 16 million foreign visitors last year. Photo: Pixabay

A lawmaker from the House of Representatives (DPR) claimed yesterday that foreigners visiting Indonesia “need not worry” about articles criminalizing sex outside of marriage contained in the draft revision to Indonesia’s criminal code (RKUHP), highlighting that charges can only be made by immediate family members of those involved. 

Teuku Taufiqulhadi, who is a member of the RKUHP working committee in the DPR, told reporters that he recently met with ambassadors from countries in the European Union and explained to them what the articles on extramarital sex entailed. 

“They asked why the article on extramarital sex was included in the criminal code? Isn’t it a privacy matter? I explained that we have included this article from the perspective of Indonesia as a religious [country], and extramarital sex is immoral. For that, the act will be criminalized,” Teuku said, as quoted by Detik.

Under Article 417 of the current RKUHP, extramarital sex or adultery would be a crime punishable by up to one year in prison. 

Teuku emphasized that the charges can only be made against the offending party by either the spouses, parents or children of those involved. 

“So clearly, foreigners will not be charged under this article just because they are not husband and wife,” Teuku said. 

Article 419 on cohabitation under the RKUHP also poses a concern for foreigners visiting Indonesia, as the article makes cohabitation (which the legislation defines as two people living together as man and wife outside of marriage) a criminal act that can be reported upon by third parties, including village heads, and punished by up to six months in prison. 

Despite what seemed to have been the latest version of the RKUHP, according to a Detik report that quoted Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly last week, charges can only be made if the police received a report from either the parents or children of those involved. 

“If a foreigner is accused of cohabitation in Bali, their parents must come, or their children, to report,” Yasonna was quoted as saying. 

The articles on extramarital sex and cohabitation are merely two of many controversial articles in Indonesia’s RKUHP, a grave matter which has seen thousands of people, led by university students, rallying on the streets of cities across the country in protest of the bill. 

Yesterday, hundreds of students held a peaceful rally in Denpasar to protest a number of issues that have troubled the country in recent months. It’s worth noting, however, that the RKUHP is just one of several matters that these university students in Indonesia are raising in their protests. 

Among these are demands for the revocation of the recently revised law governing the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the arrest of parties responsible for the forest fires ravaging parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan.


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