Everyone thinks the Criminal Code (KUHP) revision sucks. Kompas focuses on the motion to criminalize insult against the president and the vice president. Indonesians online are very concerned about the drive to criminalize LGBT+ identity, co-habitation and consensual sex between unmarried couple, and even grassroots education on contraception.
Despite the opposition, it is feared that this revision train won’t be stopped. We do not have any openly gay member of the parliament, or one who builds a family without marriage, like the Prime Minister of New Zealand. PDI-P, the closest approximation to a center-left party in Indonesian politics, raised no objection while approving the move to safeguard the executive from insult.
Some sort of compromise has been made on the question of co-habitation, which would fall under the issue of zina, or adultery. Only one’s spouse, parent, or child could press criminal charge, instead of “a third party”, i.e. anyone. Overall, this is still a bad thing because although mobs could not press charges against you, they could still raid your home in the name of public concern. Also, abusive partners and parents would have the legal rights to accuse survivors of domestic violence of crime.
In fact, Indonesia’s wish to criminalize extramarital sex (in the past it was referred as “fornication”) sounds bizarre that when international news agencies report it, the world thinks that Indonesia wants to criminalize spousal cheating.
Would not such ruling backfire on the elite themselves?
After all, it is not a terrible secret that many people in high places keep mistresses, such as former Constitutional Court judge Patrialis Akbar who was revealed in trials of his corruption case to have generously gifted car, cash, and clothes to an employee of a golf club.
With cybercrime rampaging, human trafficking still endemic, and environmental destruction ruining lives, doesn’t law enforcement have more important concerns besides contraception education and loving adults living together? In fact, the revision does not touch children sex slavery at all, an urgency for Indonesia. Worse, there is a concern that enslaved minors could even be criminalized by the zina article. While traffickers of minors could be charged in Indonesia, the customers can walk away free, so it’s not hard to guess that this ruling is meant to protect distinguished gentlemen.
The revision of the Criminal Code is an Indonesian conservative wish list. Though it is designed mostly by conservative Muslims for conservative Muslims, conservative Christians and others might agree that extramarital sex and homosexuality are sinful. That is why proponents of the revision keep saying that “All religions accept that such behaviors are sinful.” But don’t all official religions in Indonesia have to adhere to Islam’s monotheistic model? Hence Indonesian Hinduism is not polytheistic, and Indonesian Confucianism treats Confucius as an Abrahamic prophet, even saying that the Chinese New Year celebrates his birthday even though it is not.
The problem here is confusing law with morality, as Rappler has noted. Proponent of the revision sees no problem in forcing their personal moral codes into public law, as they believe that they represent the will of the majority of Indonesians, and that they don’t have to consider the perspectives of other Indonesians, including fellow Muslim.
This revision is a part of the strategy for the 2019 presidential election and this year’s regional elections. The movement appeals to religious conservatives of all classes, while pressing the government coalition to be on the defensive. Readers of Magdalene might have grievances against President Joko Widodo over his policy on Papua, treatment on memories of 1965, and relations with the military, but to many conservative Muslims, the Jokowi administration is hell on Earth. the gays and communists are everywhere, Muslim women have become rebellious, and more bule women are being nosy about Indonesia.
The revision of KUHP is not mere a political play. It is a crusade. Radical Muslims want an Indonesia they never have, but which they believe has been denied to them since the independence (hence the narrative that “only Muslims liberated Indonesia from colonialism”). The militaristic right wants to return to New Order conservatism, which emphasizes nuclear family, although the New Order was also a strong advocate of contraception. Many Christians are also homophobic and hold dear women’s virginity.
So, who’s to blame? Patriarchy. Indonesians who hate adults who love each other seem to be unhappy with their own lives. They may be unhappy to live in a loveless marriage, or weary of having to prove their masculinity over and over again, or tired of maintaining their internalized misogyny.
The solution to this problem is actually easy. Throw away toxic masculinity. Use religion for peace of mind instead of for judging others, or worse, messing with their lives. Support other women, not just your kind.
Sadly, affluent Indonesians won’t do that. They fear being outcasts, losing their competitive edge, or seen as losers and traitors. Perhaps they simply do not believe in love.