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Indonesia outlaws sex outside of marriage

Wedding rings [Sophia Charlotte/Flickr]

Indonesia has outlawed sex outside of marriage, defamation of the president and expanded laws against blasphemy in a new set of laws that have drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups.

The government tried to pass a similar law in 2019 but after a draft was released tens of thousands of protesters who felt like their constitutional rights had been violated took to the streets.

Under the new laws, unmarried couples who live together face up to a year in jail or a ten million Rupiah fine, the equivalent of $710, and parents or children will be able to report unmarried couples to the police.

According to the blasphemy law, anyone who persuades another person to be a nonbeliever can be charged and insulting a sitting president could see someone served with up to three years in prison.

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As the world's third largest democracy, critics have slammed the law on the grounds that it undermines civil liberties.

Human rights groups have said it confirms increasing conservatism in the country. Already in the Aceh province, alcohol and gambling are banned and homosexuality and adultery are punished by public flogging.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) have said that the new criminal code violates the rights of women, religious minorities and LQBT people.

"The danger of oppressive laws is not that they'll be broadly applied. It's that they provide avenue for selective enforcement," said Andreas Harsono, the rights watchdog's senior Indonesia researcher.

"These laws let police extort bribes, let officials jail political foes, for instance, with the blasphemy articles."

Under the new criminal code, abortion except for rape victims is illegal, as is practicing black magic.

The criminal code applies to foreigners as well as citizens. It is expected that the new laws will be challenged in court over the next three years before they take effect.

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