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Indonesia Approves New Criminal Code; Sex Outside Marriage Now Banned

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: December 8, 2022
This picture taken on Dec. 5, 2022 shows activists holding a protest against the new criminal code outside the parliament building in Jakarta. Indonesia's parliament approved on Dec. 6 legislation that would outlaw pre-marital sex while making other sweeping changes to the criminal code -- a move critics deemed as a setback to the country's freedoms. (Image: ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images)

On Dec. 6, the Indonesian parliament voted unanimously to pass a new criminal code that bans sex outside marriage, in addition to outlawing insults against the president and state institutions. 

Due to both locals and foreigners of several backgrounds being under the umbrella of the new law, the move has become controversial.

Outlawing sex outside marriage

According to the code, sex outside marriage will now be punishable with a sentence of one year in prison. Moreover, an old ban on insulting the president was restored. Offenders now risk up to three years in prison, the Associated Press claimed, citing a copy of the new code they have in their possession.

The new criminal code was planned for years, and is intended to replace an old system that was in effect since Indonesia’s independence in 1946. 

All political parties in parliament were said to have approved the code, with legislators seeing the vote as a move to replace old Dutch colonial laws within the judicial system.

“It is time for us to make a historical decision on the penal code amendment and to leave the colonial code we inherited behind,” Yasonna Laoly, minister of law and human rights, told parliament, according to al-Jazeera.

The new code still requires the president’s signature, Edward Hiariej , the Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights said. It will also have to wait for another three years to be transitioned from the old code.

Once in effect, parents or children will have the power to report suspected unmarried couples who have sex to the police.

Along with a year in prison for sex outside marriage, cohabitation will also be punishable by six months in prison or a fine. However, this can only go into effect if reported by parents, children or a spouse.

Sex before marriage was already banned, but the law was often not enforced. However, adultery was outright forbidden.

The new code also maintains other severe laws and punishments, including the death penalty — albeit with a 10-year probationary period — and bans abortion, and the following and spreading of communism.

The new code has been met with widespread criticism from Western rights groups, given the inclusion of both locals and foreigners under it. 


“We are going backward… repressive laws should have been abolished but the bill shows that the arguments of scholars abroad are true, that our democracy is indisputably in decline,” Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid told AFP.