Indonesian President Joko Widodo has postponed ratifications to the country’s criminal code which would outlaw extramarital sex and affect those living together outside of marriage.
ABC News has reported that Indonesia’s government had been planning to bring forward a vote on a new and controversial criminal code as early as next week. Among the proposed changes, sex outside of marriage and cohabitation outside of marriage would be made illegal.
There would also be a maximum four-year prison term for women who have an abortion, applicable if there was “no medical emergency” or “rape” involved, according to the news outlet.
At a surprise address on Friday, Widodo (pictured) announced the bill’s passage would be delayed.
“I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” Widodo told a televised news conference, as reported by The Guardian.
The media outlet added the president said the bill needed “further review” after considering input from various groups who objected to parts of it.
At time of writing, nearly 680,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on Widodo to step in and stop the bill from being passed.
The Australian government updated its travel advice for Indonesia on 20 September acknowledging the proposal for changes to the criminal code, which it said would affect “foreign residents and visitors, including tourists”.
Smartraveller warned tourists could be charged if the bill passed for, among other offences, “adultery or sex outside of marriage, encompassing all same-sex relations”, with charges only proceeding following a complaint by a spouse, child or parent.
It added that even if the changes to the code were passed by the Indonesian parliament, it would take two years to enforce.