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Indonesia may make premarital sex a crime

Indonesia is changing quickly. I did not get around yet to write a full article about these changes, but as they are relevant, I include here a number of reports from other sources.


September 29, 2003

Jakarta - Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is drafting regulations that could outlaw sex before marriage, living together outside wedlock and homosexuality, an official said on Monday.

Abdul Gani Abdullah, director general of legislation at the ministry, said the draft revisions would also ban witchcraft.

Muslim leaders, including experts in Islamic Sharia law, had been consulted over the draft revisions, he added.

But certain criteria would need to be met before a crime was committed under the revisions, he said.

"If society chooses not to do anything and has no objection to any cohabitation for example, then it is not a crime," Abdullah said by telephone, adding the idea was that people would need to lodge complaints before authorities reacted.

Details of proposed punishments were not immediately available. When completed, the draft will be submitted to parliament for debate, although bills may often languish there.

Indonesians have long followed a moderate version of Islam, although an emphasis on Muslim practices and identity with Islamic traditions has gathered pace in recent years.

Beliefs in witchcraft and mysticism are still widespread, especially on the main island of Java. And many Indonesians are also generally relaxed about homosexuality.

Abdullah said the revisions were part of efforts to revise sections of the criminal code still largely based on laws of former colonial ruler the Netherlands.