ASEAN lawmakers urge Indonesia to reject changes to criminal code

ASEAN lawmakers urge Indonesia to reject changes to criminal code

Protests in Indonesia against its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
There has been a growing hostility towards Indonesia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. (Photo: AFP/Chaideer MAHYUDDIN)

JAKARTA: Lawmakers from Southeast Asian countries have urged Indonesia to reject draft amendments to the country's criminal code, saying that they severely violate the rights to privacy and non-discrimination.

In a statement issued on Wednesday (Feb 7), the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said the amendments were a clear move in the wrong direction.

Indonesia's parliament is drafting proposed revisions to the criminal code to expand the definition of adultery and criminalise consensual sex between unmarried persons, potentially including same-sex relationships.

Regional Members of Parliament expressed concern that if the amendments were passed, it would reinforce existing prejudices and discrimination faced by vulnerable communities in the country.

“These amendments are a blatant violation of all Indonesians’ right to privacy and their fundamental liberties," said APHR Board Member Teddy Baguilat, a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

"It is extremely worrying that private affairs between two consenting, law-abiding adults could very soon be open to government interference and scrutiny,” he added. 


ASEAN lawmakers also expressed concern about the proposed amendments' implications for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the country, as Indonesia clamps down on the community.

On Jan 31, Google pulled a gay dating app from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to the government's demands. 

Most Indonesian political parties are reported to support the changes, particularly those that outlaw gay sex.

A recent survey found that nearly 90 per cent of Indonesians who understand the term LGBT feel “threatened” by the community and believe their religion forbids same-sex relations.

Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, said the current criminal code revisions being deliberated in the parliament should be re-evaluated with more input from the public.

APHR urged Indonesian legislators to bear in mind the principles of the state ideology of Pancasila, or 'five principles', 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.

Source: CNA/ad