Indonesia set to ban gay sex 

Under pressure from religious conservatives, Indonesia is moving toward outlawing gay sex and possibly premarital relations, further undermining traditions of tolerance in the Muslim-majority archipelago.

Police have reportedly stood by while vigilantes raided “gay sex parties” and charged participants with violating strict pornography laws, prompting many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to go underground. The authorities have blocked LGBT websites and apps, including dating services.

Ichsan Soelistio of the House of Representatives commission updating the criminal code said the body had reached a consensus to outlaw extramarital sex, including gay sex, with some limitations.

“More conservative elements want full criminalisation, which we reject,” said Soelistio, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the largest political party. “But we have agreed to accept a law which allows prosecution of sex outside marriage and homosexual sex, but only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police.”

Until now, homosexuality is only outlawed in the Sumatran province of Aceh, where same-sex relations results in public canings under Sharia law.

With political parties angling to shore up the Muslim vote, Indonesia’s parliament appears on the verge of revising the national criminal code to impose restrictions on same-sex relations and consensual sex outside marriage.

The latest draft of the criminal code seeks to prosecute same-sex relations carried out in public, if there is evidence of abuse or if a minor is involved.

Unmarried co-habiting couples or those engaging in extramarital sex could be prosecuted if there is a complaint from a relative.

Adultery is already illegal in Indonesia.

President Joko Widodo is considered more secular and liberal than most political leaders and will face more conservative Muslim adversaries in his bid for re-election in April 2019.

On the financial front, Indonesia looks set to become the world’s top wheat importer, as the diet becomes increasingly westernised.

The US Department of Agriculture upgraded its forecast for Indonesian wheat imports for this financial year by 1 million tonnes to 12.5 million tonnes, overtaking the 12 million tonnes expected to be purchased by Egypt.

“Population and incomes are rising and diets are moving towards western trends of pastries, instant noodles, and poultry,” it said.

 

Crowds come to see a public canning in Aceh. Picture credit: YouTube