LGBT / Indonesia drafts proposal to ban same sex relations

By: Thomas Brent - Posted on: February 2, 2018 | Current Affairs

The proposal seeks to make same sex relations illegal but activists say it could lead to violations of basic rights and grave consequences for the LGBT community

Someone in Indonesia checks Blued, a popular gay social network app

A proposal to make same sex relations, extramarital sex and cohabitation illegal is being drafted by a parliamentary commission in Indonesia in a move that would change the country’s criminal code (KUHP).

Activists have criticised the proposal saying it could lead to violations of basic rights such as privacy, and also worry that it could have grave consequences for the LGBT community, who are already marginalised in the country, Reuters reported.

However, the proposed amendments, which are yet to be finalised, are thought to be widely supported by the major political parties.

Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims and has seen a rise in conservatism in recent times. It is likely that many parties will embrace the changes to the law so as not to alienate voters in the run up to next year’s general election, with some parties taking an especially hard line stance on same sex relations, Reuters reported.

“In legal terms, religious terms and ethical terms, we cannot have that in our country,” said Junimart Girsang, a member of both the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the parliamentary commission.

Last month a petition demanding similar reforms was narrowly rejected by the Constitutional court, with the judge saying that it was not the court’s place to implement new policies and that it should be put to parliament.

Love Family Alliance, a group which likens itself to conservative evangelical Christian associations in the United States, was one of the main backers of the petition, Reuters reported.

“The truth is the majority of religions in Indonesia hold the same values, so…(the revisions) are representative of the majority and of all cultures in Indonesia,” said Euis Sunarti, a member of the group.

The parliamentary commission spoke to various sources including religious scholars, legal experts and members of the public in order to gather opinions on how best to change the KUHP regarding extramarital sex.

However, rights groups have claimed that the new laws could have a negative effect on the country.

“It will slow down Indonesia’s efforts to develop their economy, society, knowledge, education etc….if law enforcement agencies are busy policing morality,” Reuters reported Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch as saying.

Extramarital sex and same sex relations are currently unregulated in Indonesia, although adultery and same-sex marriage are illegal.

The Aceh province is the only region that enforces some provisions of Islamic criminal law, which includes punishments such as caning.

The proposal is expected to be finalised within the coming weeks.

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