3rd-Largest Democracy May Ban Sex Outside Marriage

This could be a 'disaster' for human rights in Indonesia
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2016 4:00 AM CDT
Country of 260M May Ban Sex Outside Marriage
In this Thursday, March 17, 2016 photo, a man walks past an anti-LGBT banner in Jakarta, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

(Newser) – Indonesia is the world's third-largest democracy, with more than 260 million people, but it's moving in a direction that some rights groups find very alarming. In what could end up being the latest victory for religious conservatives in the majority-Muslim country, its highest court is considering changing the constitution to outlaw sex outside of marriage, reports the Washington Post. Activists warn that a ruling to ban unmarried sex would not only make gay sex illegal in the country for the first time, it would turn the millions of couples who have only informal or ceremonial marriages into criminals. "It's obvious this law will be a disaster, and women will be most affected," says a women's rights activist.

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Indonesia's legal code still has more in common with the law of colonial power Holland than Islamic law, but religious conservatives, including a group calling itself the "Family Love Alliance," have been pushing hard for change, the International Business Times reports. Some of the nine justices on the court have already expressed their support for a change to the constitution. In hearings over the last few weeks, "expert" witnesses have testified that homosexuality represents a danger to Indonesia. The witnesses included an anti-gay activist who claimed that gay marriage in the US was a conspiracy masterminded by a small group of Jews, the Post reports. A decision is expected later this year. (Read more Indonesia stories.)

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