The bill would ban gay sex in a country without same-sex marriage.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo has postponed a bill that would’ve banned gay sex after pressure from human rights groups and Australia. The bill would ban sex outside of marriage, effectively banning gay sex due to a ban on same-sex marriages.
The vote is now scheduled for next month when Indonesia’s new parliament convenes. If the bill is passed, same-sex relations, as well as cohabitation, will be criminalised with a one-year jail sentence.
In a televised news conference, Widodo said he wanted ministers to “perfect” the bill. “I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” he said.
Other laws set to be introduced would include banning insulting the president’s dignity and a four-year jail term for abortion outside of medical emergency or rape.
Initially defending the laws to CNN, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, said: “We would like to change to our new penal code to focus more on Indonesian perspectives in the law. The reason is because there are some laws in the penal code that are not suitable for Indonesia any more.”
Andreas Harsono, a senior researcher at the Human Rights Watch said the proposed laws would be “disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians. Lawmakers should remove all the abusive articles before passing the law.”
Reuters reports that Riska Carolina, the head of the legal division for LGBTQ group Arus Pelangi, said the group would fight to remove parts of the law that have “the potential for gross human rights violation, especially against the LGBT community.”
She added: “Regardless of the morality of the majority, the minority has the right to live as citizens in this country and we just want to live quietly.”
Referencing the only region in Indonesia to have banned homosexuality, LGBTQ activist Lini Zurlia said the proposed laws “was basically Aceh’s criminal law expanded into national law.”
After the announcement of the laws, Australia warned its citizens that they faced penalties for extramarital sex and homosexual relations. The laws also spurred a large student protest outside the country’s Parliament on Thursday (19 September).