A group of young Muslims wearing hijabs make their way along a street in Jakarta on September 19, 2019. - Indonesia is set to vote on a plan to outlaw gay and pre-marital sex while beefing up its blasphemy laws in a shakeup fuelled by religious conservatism and slammed by rights groups Thursday
A group of young Muslims wearing hijabs make their way along a street in Jakarta on September 19, 2019. - Indonesia is set to vote on a plan to outlaw gay and pre-marital sex while beefing up its blasphemy laws in a shakeup fuelled by religious conservatism and slammed by rights groups Thursday
Photo by GOH CHAI HIN / AFP

Jakarta: Indonesia is set to pass a new penal code that would criminalise consensual sex outside of marriage and effectively outlaw same-sex relations.

The draft code, which will also introduce penalties for insulting the President, is set to be adopted as soon as next week, after the government agreed to the bill on Wednesday, reported CNN.

Calling on lawmakers to drop the controversial articles before passing the law, Human Rights Watch termed the draft code “disastrous” not only for women, religious and gender minorities but for all Indonesians.

A group of NGOs has also urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to step in and delay the 628-article bill, before it is expected to be legalised on September 24.

Under the proposed law, extramarital sex can be punished by up to one year in prison and couples can be prosecuted if a close family lodges a police complaint.

Unmarried couples who are reported to police for living together could be sentenced to six months in prison or face a fine. If close family members do not object, a village chief can also file a police complaint.

Indonesia’s Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, who reintroduced the bill in 2015, said that the law replaces the 100-year-old Dutch colonial-era penal code and would make Indonesia’s criminal law more in line with how Indonesians live today.

“We would like to change to our new penal code to focus more on Indonesian perspectives in the law. There are some laws in the penal code that are not suitable for Indonesia anymore,” Laoly said. The bill will go to a parliamentary plenary session on September 24 where it will be made into law.

Under the proposed law, extramarital sex can be punished by up to one year in prison and couples can be prosecuted if a close family lodges a police complaint.

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