(The Guardian) — History seems to be repeating itself in Indonesia. Same beats, same choruses, same incendiary statements, same rebuttals. The Indonesian government is about to deliver a fresh blow to its LGBTI communities. Yesterday’s “a threat worse than a nuclear bomb” is today’s “sacrilege” or “disease.”

Following the raids at gay bars and saunas last year and the arrest and humiliation of 12 trans women in Aceh last month, Indonesia’s House of Representatives will decide on a set of revisions to the country’s criminal code on 14 February, which has not been updated since its days as a Dutch colony. With the draft containing these revisions already circulated, the criminalisation of the LGBT communities takes on a decidedly more potent tenor. Two sections, if passed, may outlaw extramarital and homosexual sex, respectively carrying the maximum prison sentence of five years and 12 years.

Reading this draft, I realised that crass subjectivity can be weaponised. For example, the planned law against extramarital sex will make it harder for rape victims to claim their innocence when their assailants say that the rape is consensual. This will also hurt impoverished Indonesians who can’t afford to file for legal certification of their marriage (estimates put this at 55% of couples) – their fornication could be fair game in the eyes of the court.

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