ASEAN MPs urge Indonesia to reject Criminal Code amendments

Wednesday 07 February 2018 11:54
Draft amendments to Indonesia's Criminal Code currently being debated in the House of Representatives would, if approved, severely violate the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination in the country, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said today.

The collective of regional lawmakers called on members of the Indonesian Parliament to reject the amendments, which propose to expand the definition of adultery and criminalize consensual sex between unmarried persons, potentially including same-sex relationships.

"These amendments are a blatant violation of all Indonesians' right to privacy and their fundamental liberties. It is extremely worrying that private affairs between two consenting, law-abiding adults could very soon be opened to government interference and scrutiny," said APHR Board Member Teddy Baguilat, a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

"For a country that has rightly considered itself a leader within the ASEAN region on issues of human rights, this would be a clear move in the wrong direction. Indonesia should be protecting the rights of its citizens, rather than exposing them to increased harassment and prosecution," he added.

Regional MPs expressed concern about the proposed amendments' implications for LGBT rights in the country, particularly within the wider context of a dramatic rise in hostility against the LGBT community from militant Islamists, state authorities, and mainstream religious organizations. According to reports, in 2017 alone, more than 300 LGBT persons were picked up during police raids, and eight men were imprisoned under the Pornography Law. On 27 January 2018, police in the province of Aceh reportedly arrested 12 transgender women, whom they forcibly stripped and beat before releasing them without charge.

"If passed, these changes to the Criminal Code will reinforce existing prejudices and discrimination faced by an already vulnerable community in Indonesia, and legitimize ongoing bullying, homophobic violence, and police abuse," Baguilat said.

Regional lawmakers also noted that support for these revisions comes at a time of growing religious extremism in the country. In the last few years, there has been a rise in violations of freedom of religion or belief in Indonesia, which have included attacks on places of worship and the use of the country's ill-defined blasphemy law.

APHR urged Indonesian legislators considering the amendments to bear in mind Indonesia's constitutional commitment to non-discrimination and equality before the law, as well as the principles of the state ideology of Pancasila, which include respect for humanity and the freedom to choose one's religion or belief.

"It is critical that the House of Representatives rejects these amendments, as currently written, in order to ensure that Indonesia's status as an open, pluralistic country remains intact," Baguilat said.