Indonesia pushes for gay, pre-marital sex ban

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Indonesia is pushing to clamp down on gay and pre-marital sex as part of a sweeping criminal law overhaul that critics blame on a wave of religious fundamentalism sweeping across the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.

The proposed shake up — which also takes aim at condom use and adultery — is winning unprecedented support ahead of 2019 presidential elections, after earlier attempts to shake up Indonesia’s Dutch-colonial era laws fizzled.

Parliament is drawing up the new code with all the major political parties reportedly on board and the draft is expected to be tabled in the coming months.

Wide swathes of Indonesian society — including heterosexual couples who might face jail for having sex outside wedlock or having an affair — may be impacted if the laws pass.

But the Southeast Asian nation’s small LGBT community could feel the sting most.

“Some politicians see it as an opportunity to cater to the religious base,” said political analyst Yuventius Nicky.

“There’s this supposed morality threat that is being queer.”

Government officials, religious hardliners and influential Islamic groups have lined up to make anti-LGBT statements in public recently.

Last month, Google pulled one of the world’s largest gay dating apps from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands.

And police have used a tough anti-pornography law to criminalise members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Parliamentary speaker Bambang Soesatyo called this week for a crackdown on the community’s “excesses”, after the health ministry announced it would release a medical guide classifying homosexuality as a “mental disorder”.

Gay sex is currently legal everywhere in secular Indonesia except for Aceh where it is banned under the semi-autonomous province’s Islamic law.

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