Indonesian court mulls gay sex ban

By AFP   August 4, 2016 | 04:49 pm GMT+7

Indonesia's Constitutional Court is considering making gay sex a crime for causing "moral degradation" in the Muslim-majority nation.

The move comes after the gay community in Indonesia began coming under sustained attack earlier this year, with ministers and religious leaders denouncing homosexuality and LGBT websites blocked.

The court is hearing a judicial review filed by Islamic activist group the Family Love Alliance that seeks to alter the criminal code to ban homosexual sex.

"We see the moral degradation that is happening," Rita Hendrawaty Soebagio, chairwoman of the alliance, told AFP.

"This is purely because of our love for our nation, we must do something while we have a chance."

Her group argues that the influence of the gay community has been spreading, particularly since the United States legalised same-sex marriage nationwide last year, which activists believe triggered the backlash.

Under current laws, sex is only illegal for both homosexual and heterosexual people if it involves a minor.

The judicial review was filed in May and the court has held five hearings, including one this week, in which it heard from expert witnesses. The next hearing is due later this month but it is not yet known when a ruling will be handed down.

The court said on its website that it was hearing the case and that testimony from health experts included claims that gay sex could cause sexually transmitted diseases.

Gay sex remains legal in most of Indonesia although homosexuality is generally taboo. A small number of provinces in the country, where power is heavily decentralised, have passed Islamic-inspired laws against homosexual sex.

Indonesia's current laws on homosexuality are more liberal than some of its neighbours.

In Singapore sex between men remains illegal, a holdover from colonial rule that is not strictly enforced. In Malaysia sodomy is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment, corporal punishment, and fines.

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