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Indonesia Criminalises Pre-marital Sex, Co-habitation Of Unmarried Couples

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Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, cleared a sweeping overhaul of its criminal code on Tuesday, outlawing sex outside of marriage, defamation of the president and sharply expanding its laws against blasphemy.

The new rules, which also apply to foreigners in the country, have drawn criticism from human rights activists, businesspeople and students who warned of the risks posed to the L.G.B.T. community and religious minorities.

Opponents also said that the rules threatened the global reputation that Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, has built as a tolerant, widely secular nation.

Indonesian officials say upgrading the existing criminal code, which dates back to 1918 when Indonesia was a Dutch colony, was long overdue.

Among the raft of new laws, penalties around consensual sex outside marriage have drawn the most criticism.

According to the new law, unmarried couples who “live together as a husband and wife” could be jailed for six months or face a maximum fine of 10 million rupiah ($710).

Sex outside marriage carries a potential one-year prison term though there are restrictions on who can lodge a formal complaint. For example, the parents of children who are cohabitating before marriage have the authority to report them.

Blasphemy laws have increased from “one to six provisions” including apostasy – renouncing a religion. For the first time since its independence, Indonesia will make it illegal to persuade someone to be a non-believer. This can now lead to a five-year prison sentence.

Ban on insults to the president and vice president, the sitting government as well as state institutions.

The ban on unsanctioned public demonstrations could unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly.

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