Five Urgent Issues for Indonesia’s President to Address

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02/09/2020

On February 10, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) will address Australia’s parliament. Indonesia is often referred to as the democratic success story of Southeast Asia and a model of Muslim democracy, yet it has been responsible for significant backsliding on human rights in recent years. This backsliding is serious enough that Australian leaders should ask Jokowi some hard questions during his Canberra visit. Indonesia has been working on updating its colonial-era Criminal Code for decades. Now Indonesia’s parliament is discussing a new draft code with a raft of problematic provisions that would be disastrous for women and minorities, and for many Indonesians in general. The new code proposes to punish extramarital sex with up to one year in jail and unmarried couples who live together with six months. Consensual sex between adults should never be a crime, and this law would disproportionately affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. While it does not mention same-sex conduct, same-sex relationships are not legally recognized in Indonesia, so it would effectively criminalize all same-sex conduct.

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