Politicians propose laws to criminalize premarital sex, distribution of contraceptives

Legislators in the House of Representative (DPR) have recently been discussing several possible new additions to Indonesia’s Criminal Code which have alarmed observers and human rights advocates. 

This week, lawmakers discussed an amendment to criminal code Article 484, which criminalizes adultery. The law currently criminalizes a member of a married couple having sex with a third party and is rarely used. But the draft amendment being pushed by a large faction within the DPR would make all sex outside of marriage punishable by up to 5 years in jail. (It essentially makes the same changes to the law that conservative Islamic group AILA is currently petitioning the Constitutional Court to make).

The amendment is backed by Islamic political parties including the United Development Party (PPP), National Awakening Party (PKB), National Mandate Party (PAN), and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) as well as Gerindra, the NasDem Party and the Democratic Party. Together they make up just over 50% of the DPR.

PPP lawmaker Arsul Sani justified the amendment saying that everybody knows that sex outside of marriage is immoral and “the law should reflect morality.” He was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying that the law would prevent people from taking violent actions against adulterers, such as “burning unmarried couples”.

Criminalizing contraception
Other possible additions to the Criminal Code that have activists worried are Article 481 and Article 483. Combined, the articles would make it illegal for unauthorized personnel to distribute contraceptives in any form or even provide information about them. 

“If this law was enacted, the consequences are very serious. Because it means that my friends who are engaged in reproductive health education can be criminalized since the law’s formulation is limited. People who have been certified by the state are the only ones who could do reproductive health campaigns,” said Anggara, a senior researcher at the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) during a discussion in Jakarta on Thursday as quoted by Kompas

Anggara warned that the law would serious impede efforts by NGOs and also the government’s own family planning programs from being able to provide people with critical information about reproductive health and also HIV.

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