University students across Indonesia protested on Tuesday, September 24 against a central government bill that proposes stringent punishments for couples indulging in consensual pre-marital sex, extramarital sex, and same-sex relations.
The proposed bill was to be discussed on Tuesday but President Joko Widodo postponed it to Friday, in order to give lawmakers more time to think over the fresh laws. The bill has recieved massive backlash and outrage from people.
What Is The Bill About?
The bill aims to criminalise consensual pre-marital sex, or sex before marriage and those found guilty would be sentenced for up to one year. Insulting or derogatory remarks about the president, religion or even the national flag or anthem would be considered illegal under the bill.
Abortion, outside of rape and medical emergencies, will also be held illegal and offenders would be considered for a four-year prison term. A prison term for black magic would also be introduced under the new bill. Homosexuality and live-in relationships would also be punishable by a six-month prison term. There is also a provision in the proposed bill which bans the promotion of contraception methods to minors.
Why Are People Protesting?
Indonesians on Tuesday took to the streets to oppose the ‘unfair’ bill. Some students climbed up the gates of the Parliament and demanded to a word with the speaker, Bambang Soesatyo. The police had to resort to tear gas and water cannons as some of the protestors pelted stones.
“My crotch doesn’t belong to the government,” one of the banners read. People took to Twitter to register their dissent against the bill.
“This criminal code is a breach of basic human rights, freedom of speech, right to health care, abortion rights and so on,” wrote a Twitter user. According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, if the bill is passed, it would be a gross violation of human rights in Indonesia.
A bill that criminalizes abortion, homeless, sex before marriage, cohabitation and so on is soon to be passed in Indonesia. Please help us to stop that by signing this petition: https://t.co/pJdrr44Fe8
— suara #HidupRakyatIndonesia (@originofotonal) September 19, 2019
Indonesia is rapidly turning into Saudi Arabia.
■ “Sex before marriage would be criminalised and could result in a one-year prison term”
■ “insulting religion and the president would become illegal” https://t.co/trzpi1qOjR
— Saleem Javed (@mSaleemJaved) September 24, 2019
Dear International especially western media our protest isn't just about sex law ban, it is about democracy, freedom of speech, West Papua, indigenous land rights, health care, abortion and so on.
Stop fetishizing Indonesia's taboo on sexuality to get clicks.
— DEA (@DeaSB) September 24, 2019
Impact Of Law On Tourists
As per reports, over 1.2 million Australians visit Bali every year. Not every couple that visits Indonesia might be married.
Bali has been a popular destination for romantic getaways. Experts say that under the proposed bill tourists if found guilty might be penalised. Given that thousands of Indonesians consider the bill an impingement of their basic freedom, several online petitions have been come up calling for solidarity with Indonesians.
The Logical Indian Take
The government’s move is questionable as Bali is the centre of attraction for tourist around the globe who come from diverse cultures to enjoy the scenic beauty. In such a case, the Indonesian government’s move may not only hamper its image internationally but also hurt its economy which has a major chunk of the contribution coming from the tourism industry.