The Overhaul That Kills Civil and Individual Liberties
Among the most problematic provisions of the draft of the Indonesian Criminal Code are:
1. Article 2 – Recognizes “living laws” Indonesia, which may be interpreted to include hukum adat (customary criminal law) and Sharia (Islamic Law) at the local level. What this means is that discriminatory laws from both codes can be used against women, religious minorities, and members of the LGBT community. There is currently no official list of living laws in the countries, and this puts many people at risk of discriminatory prosecution at the whim of radical Islamists and conservatives.
2. Article 417 – Extramarital sex is punishable to up to one year in prison. While the provision does not mention homosexual relationships and intimacy, since Indonesia does not recognize same-sex marriage, this article effectively bans all forms of gay sex as it applies to everyone now, not just married couples.
3. Article 419 – Punishes couples living together without a marriage certificate to up to six months in prison. Village heads can file police reports of such couples, regardless of their citizenship/nationality.
4. Article 421 – Punishes “obscene acts” in public to up six months of prison time. This obscenity provision can easily be used to harass and prosecute same-sex couples.
5. Article 413 – This provision was supposed to be for the production and distribution of pornography. However, the definition of the “deviant sexual intercourse” has allowed the use of the 2008 Law on Pornography to discriminate against the LGBT.
6. Articles 304 to 309 – These provisions expand the Blasphemy Law, which now carries a maximum five-year prison term. To date, over 150 individuals have been prosecuted under Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law. Blasphemy Law supposedly punishes deviations from the central tenets of the country’s six officially recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
The Human Rights Watch, among many other organizations, is calling for the complete repealing of the overhauled criminal code as the problematic provisions run contrary to the freedom that all citizens and guests of the country deserve.
If these provisions should see the light of day, Indonesia will create a long-lasting atmosphere of fear that targets the most vulnerable sectors of the population, as well as citizens that are visiting the country, boosting its tourism industry. Indonesia should choose instead to be forward thinking and progressive, and unfettered by repressive codes and laws that belong to a bygone era. It’s time to move forward to a new era of tolerance, openness, and inclusion.