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Indonesian court blocks petition to ban gay and premarital sex

Indonesian court blocks petition to ban gay and premarital sex

The Indonesian Constitutional Court in Jakarta

The Indonesian Constitutional Court today rejected a petition to make gay and premarital sex punishable by up to five years in prison.

A petition was filed by the Family Love Alliance [AILA], a group of far-right wing anti-LGBTI Islamic activists and conservative academics last year.

But today the Constitutional Court struck down their petition. The Court’s Chief Justices voted 5-4 in rejecting the petition.

The Court ruled the petition would require creating new laws in the country’s penal code which was the responsibility of the government.

‘Just because a law is considered incomplete or no longer in line with the society’s norms does not mean the law itself is contradictory to the Constitution,’ the verdict said.

Any limitations on peoples’ rights must be decided through the legislative process in the House of Representatives, the verdict said.

‘Petitions filed [to the court] are meant to protect someone’s rights from being limited,’ Justice Maria Farida said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in most of Indonesia, except the province of Aceh which has special exemption to follow the Islamic Sharia Law.

Deviant lifestyles

When the AILA first filed the petition its leader Rita Hendrawaty said the group did not want to criminalize the LGBTI community.

‘The real reason is so that we have much clearer norms,’ she said in August last year.

‘We are not intending to criminalize those who have deviant sexual orientation. That is not the point. They can be free to live but do not show what is their lifestyle.’

One of the academics who filed the petition said the constitution had become too liberal.

Hamid Chalid, a constitutional law expert at the University of Indonesia wanted the court to stand up for the rights of religious groups to ensure the protection of moral values.

‘Our country has legalized fornication, male rape, and homosexual acts,’ he said last year.

‘We’ve allowed our constitution to become too liberal — is that what we want?’