Indonesia’s parliament has approved a new criminal code that bans anyone in the country from having sex outside marriage. The new law comes with a punishment of imprisonment of up to one year.


The new legislation which applies to citizens and foreigners contains new clauses criminalizing immoralities and blasphemy. For the first time, Indonesia will also make it illegal to persuade someone to be a non-believer. New defamatory articles will also make it illegal for people to insult the president or criticize state ideology. Couples caught living together without a marriage certificate would also be arrested and could face up to 6 months in prison. Members of parliament believe that the new law would encourage chastity and political and religious stability.  

Picture: Marriage ceremony


This however did not settle well with Jakarta-based researcher Andreas Harsano who stated that there are millions of people in Indonesia, especially indigenous people and Muslims living in the rural areas as couples without marriage certificates but have married in specific ceremonies. This law he said, will negatively affect them.


Several citizens and visitors have expressed their grievances about the new law citing it as a “disaster” for human rights and a potential blow to tourism and investments. Rights groups say the law disproportionately affects women, LGBTQ people, and ethnic minorities and challenged it for amendments.  


Following the law’s approval, 28-year-old Muslim, Ajeng announced she was at risk for living with her unmarried partner for years.  Speaking with BBC, she added that with the new law both her partner and she stand the risk of going to jail if one of their family makes a police report. According to her, having sex outside marriage or living together with a partner is not a crime, although her religion frowns upon that and called for the law not be centred on certain religious beliefs. The law although passed will come into effect in three years.