In cities across Indonesia, protesters have gathered to speak out against a new set of proposed legislation that would ban extramarital sex. This would, in effect, ban any sort of same-sex activity since the country does not recognize same-sex marriage. Additionally, the bill would ban abortion except in cases of rape or incest. These measures are only two of the changes that the Indonesian Parliament is trying to make to the country’s criminal code. Other proposed changes include limiting free speech by criminalizing speaking in opposition to the president.
The protesters are urging President Joko Widodo to halt legislation. As for the crime bill, however, they demand that the president cancel it altogether. Many feel that he has not lived up to his promises since he won re-election last April. Usam Hamid, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, stated that “He is saying he wants democracy, human rights and free expression, but on the other hand the police keep arresting and criminalizing people,” referring to those who have been arrested from protesting or trying to organize demonstrations.
Widodo told reporters that the bills were delayed in order to get better input and gain a better understanding of what the citizens of Indonesia want. Some religious groups claim that the bills are more in line with Indonesian society than the protesters are saying. Many local officials hope that changes are made to bill before it becomes law, while some members of Parliament who only have one term left hope that the bill remains the way it was originally written before they leave the governing body.
Sources: NYT 9/30/19; Reuters 9/23/19