Indonesia’s parliament has approved a new law that prohibits anyone in the country from having extramarital sex.
According to the new law, which takes effect in three years, sex outside marriage will carry a jail term of up to a year.
The new law also restricts political freedoms, a development that comes after a rise in religious conservatism in the Muslim-majority country.
Meanwhile, critics described the laws as a “disaster” for human rights, and a potential blow to tourism and investment.
Several groups of mainly young people protested against the legislation outside parliament in Jakarta this week. The new laws, it is expected, will be challenged in court.
The laws apply equally to locals and to foreigners living in Indonesia, or visiting holiday destinations such as Bali. Under the laws, unmarried couples caught having sex can be jailed for up to a year.
They are also banned from living together – an act for which people could be jailed for up to six months. Adultery will also be an offence for which people can be jailed.
Ajeng, a 28-year-old Muslim woman living in the West Java city of Depok, told BBC that she was now at risk for living with her partner for the past five years.
“With the new law, both of us can go to jail if one of the family decides to make a police report.
“What if there’s one family member who has a problem with me and decides to send me to jail?
“I think living together or having sex outside of marriage is not a crime. In my religion, it’s considered a sin. But I don’t think the criminal code should be based on a certain religion.”
She said she had joined the nationwide protests in 2019 when the law had first been broached. She took the sign: “For the right to cuddle, I took to the streets.”