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Indonesia Court Denies Effort to Ban Extramarital Sex

Family Love Alliance (AILA) members attend a trial at Indonesia's constitutional court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 14, 2017. The court denied their petition.

Indonesia’s constitutional court has rejected a petition that would criminalize all consensual sexual relations outside of marriage.

Thursday’s 5-4 ruling was a victory for gay rights activists, who feared the petition targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community for persecution. The petition was filed by a conservative group, the Family Love Alliance, which was seeking a change in Indonesian law that would apply the definition of adultery to all Indonesians, regardless of their marital status.

The court ruled that the legislature, and not the court, had the authority to change the country’s laws. Under current Indonesian law, sex is only illegal if it involves a minor.

Indonesia’s LGBT community has been the target of a growing hostility that threatens the world’s largest Muslim-majority country’s reputation for tolerance and moderation. Conservative government officials and religious groups have made harsh anti-gay statements, and police have raided gay-themed parties and clubs and charged them under Indonesia’s tough anti-pornography laws.

Two young men were caned in the semiautonomous province of Aceh after a group of vigilantes broke into their home and caught them having sex. Homosexuality is banned in Aceh, which observes Sharia law.