By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

One of the most peculiar, and comprehensible, sources of moral opprobrium throughout human history is sex and sexuality, especially as regards female sexual functions and sexual pleasure. In Indonesia, the case remains much the same as in other parts of human history. Perhaps this can be seen as history as usual with an Indonesian flavour.

According to CTV News , Indonesia is hard at work trying to ban gay and premarital sex so as to reinvigorate the historical trend of condemnation of non-religiously sanctified sexuality and non-heterosexual sexuality. It’s important to note, as many of you probably know, Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population. Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said, “Indonesia’s draft criminal code is disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians.”

Al Jazeera described the nature of the proposed bill as implying that those who have extramarital and premarital sex could face a sentence of six to 12 months’ imprisonment. The president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, thinks the proposed bill should have more review. Public outcry over the new penal code created the basis for Widodo proposing the delay of the parliamentary vote.

“ After hearing from various groups with objections to aspects of the law, I’ve decided that some of it needs further deliberation… The justice minister has been told to convey my views to parliament and that ratification of the criminal code should be postponed and not passed,” Widodo said in a televised press briefing.

Penalties under the proposed additions to the law could also be given for insulting the dignity of the president, for offering or even simply showing contraception to minors (those under the age of 18), and could also include four years in jail for an illegal abortion “in the absence of a medical emergency or rape.”

Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Research Manager,  stated , “This is a setback… Religious values as a source of lawmaking has now reached the national level — that’s worrying.”

This article appears in the April 2020 version of Critical Links.