Indonesia seeks to criminalize public kissing, cohabitation

JAKARTA (AFP) – Public kissing and cohabitation may become crimes in Indonesia in future as the world’s largest Muslim nation seeks to overhaul its Dutch-inherited criminal laws, an official said.

The drafting of a new criminal code has finally been completed after 25 years and parliament will soon debate it, justice ministry official Abdul Gani Abdullah told AFP Saturday.

The proposed draft includes provisions banning public kissing, unmarried couples from living together and adultery. Offenders caught kissing in the open could be jailed up to 10 years and fined as much as 300 million rupiah (33,000 dollars) under new penalties.

Some legal experts have criticized the draft, saying the state should not repress citizens’ freedom of expression or interfere in their private lives.

But Abdullah insisted the proposed laws were in line with popular wishes.

“Kissing in public is a crime if the people around are not happy and lodge a complain. But if they think it’s all right, then no action will be taken,” he said.

“The same goes with cohabitation. If neighbors think the presence of an unmarried couple living together is a nuisance, they can report to police.”

The draft also contains provisions governing issues such as people trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and corruption, which were currently regulated in separate laws, he added.

The government began work on a new set of criminal laws in the 1980s to replace the existing criminal code which was drawn up in 1886 and seen as outdated.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation but most Muslims practice a tolerant interpretation of the faith.

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AFP, via Yahoo! News, France
Feb. 5, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday February 5, 2005.
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