Indonesia bans sex outside marriage as parliament passes sweeping new criminal code

The content originally appeared on: CNN

Indonesian lawmakers passed a sweeping new criminal code on Tuesday that criminalizes sex outside marriage, as part of a tranche of changes that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.

The new code also bans cohabitation before marriage, apostasy, and provides punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the secular national ideology.

The crime of blasphemy, already on Indonesia’s books, now carries a possible five-year prison term.

Rights groups and critics have warned that the new code will “disproportionately impact women” and further curtail human rights and freedoms in the Muslim-majority country.

A previous draft of the code was set to be passed in 2019 but sparked nationwide protests.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono warned the laws were open to exploitation.

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide avenue for selective enforcement,” he said.

Harsono called the new laws “a setback for already declining religious freedom in Indonesia,” warning that “non-believers could be prosecuted and jailed.”

This is a developing story. More to come.