House of Representatives of Indonesia to Vote on Amendments to Criminal Code


19 September 2019

Media Contact: Daina Ruduša,, +1 (917) 622-1865

House of Representatives of Indonesia to Vote on Amendments to Criminal Code

The Indonesian House of Representatives will be voting on September 24, 2019, on proposed revisions to the Indonesian Criminal Code which, if passed, will violate the rights of numerous vulnerable groups, including women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities, as well as limit freedom of speech and association.

Proposed changes to article 421 of the Criminal Code prescribe punishment for any person who “commits obscene acts against another person of the opposite or same-sex”. he vague and loosely defined language of the provision leads LGBTQ activists to fear that these provisions will give the authorities further ammunition against LGBTQ people in a social and political climate of increasing hostility and persecution.

Additional provisions would also see the criminalization of abortion, and harshening laws on adultery, especially for women.

Indonesia has never had national legislation criminalizing same-sex relations, however, several provinces operate under Sharia law which criminalizes consensual same-sex activity. Wide interpretations of the national Pornography Act and Public Nuisance laws have also been used to target and imprison LGBTQ people. Since 2017 state-sanctioned raids on LGBTQ meeting spaces, hotels frequented by LGBTIQ people, and even private homes have intensified under the guise of enforcement of these laws, and numerous people have been detained under these laws for suspected or presumed same-sex relations. Local regulations have also been used to justify raids and evictions of LGBTQ people from towns and neighborhoods.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:

Experience from recent years has shown that existing national legislation, such as the Pornography Act and Public Nuisance laws, which do not refer explicitly to same-sex relations, have been used to target and imprison LGBTQ people. The proposed changes to the Criminal Code will introduce a specific reference to same-sex acts, and, as such, will give authorities in Indonesia even more legal backing to persecute LGBTQ people.

The proposed amendments have already undergone a review and were approved by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, and the Working Group of Commission VIII of the Indonesian House of Representatives, which oversees human rights matters.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, continues:

The move towards criminalization of consensual same-sex acts and increasing restrictions on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Indonesia is a frightening reminder of the the growing global backlash that we face in fighting for gender equality and the right of LGBTQ people to be who we are and love who we choose, without fear of violence, persecution or imprisonment. This should serve as a reminder that progress cannot be taken for granted, and LGBTQ and women's movements have to fight not only for progress, but also to safeguard that which has already been achieved.

For more information review the Regional Statement on the Looming Criminalization of LGBTQ Persons in Indonesia released by organizations in the region.