Indonesia’s Constitutional Court narrowly rejected a petition by 5-4 votes that would have outlawed sex outside of marriage and gay sex altogether.
Indonesia’s LGBT community breathed a huge sigh of relief after the recent increase of hostility towards them. The petition was brought forward by conservative academics alongside the Family Love Alliance back in May 2016. Had their proposed legislation gone through, not only would gay sex be illegal, but also all premarital sex.
The maximum penalty for offenders would have been 5 years in jail.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald:
“The Legal Aid Institute welcomed the decision saying the Constitutional Court had upheld the right to privacy, refused to contribute to the overpopulation of prisons and prevented gender minorities and women from being persecuted.”
However, the ruling does not mean that either side recognises that this is the end.
The four dissenting judges have argued that this was not a decision for the Constitutional Court, but an issue to be debated in Parliament. That is why prominent Indonesian gay rights activist Dede Oetomo has warned that the fight is not over.
Though after years of increasing discrimination towards Indonesia’s LGBT community, it feels like a victory for them. For Indonesia’s Gays, Lesbians, Transgender Warias and Progressives in general – breathing a sigh of relief is the best kind of victory they can hope for.
Or is it?
This is the second progressive ruling by the Constitutional Court in a matter of weeks, coming after the Court ruled in favour of Indonesia’s Indigenous faiths in November. The Court’s historic recognition was, according to Reuters:
“… a “new chapter for religious freedom”… Indonesians would not be required to identify as either Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian on their national identification cards.”
For the likes of Indonesia’s 17 million Orang Rimba – and many others – the Constitutional Court has landed on the side of unity in diversity.