Indonesia's Parliament continues deliberation of controversial family resilience Bill

The Bill attempts to bring back the traditional and patriarchal way of managing households. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia's lawmakers have started to deliberate the controversial family resilience Bill as lawmakers behind the planned legislation, deemed by critics to interfere with citizens' privacy, submitted it to the House's legislation body (Baleg) on Monday (Sept 21).

Lawmaker Netty Prasetiyani of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) highlighted in the meeting with Baleg that the government must protect families, the basis for making public policies, from "vulnerability".

"If each family is able to build 'immunity' and 'antibodies' against (life challenges), then family resilience will become a pillar of national resilience," Ms Netty said as livestreamed on YouTube on Monday.

Another proponent, lawmaker Ali Taher of the National Mandate Party (PAN), argued that the Bill will address the social gap between rural and urban areas, which according to him, is the cause of social issues that disrupt "family resilience".

"Gaps between rural and urban areas would cause six basic problems, namely unemployment, poverty, family disorganisation, crime, free sex and drugs, which affect family resilience," Mr Ali said. "So the presence of this law is important to strengthen our national resilience."

Both PKS and PAN are Islamic parties.

One of the most contentious articles in the controversial legislation stipulates that women must "take care of household affairs", "maintain family's unity", and "fulfil their husbands' rights in line with religious norms, social ethics and prevailing laws".

Another intrusive article in what has been dubbed a "bedroom Bill" suggests that parents should sleep in separate rooms from their children, as should brothers and sisters.

It also suggests that individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community must attend a rehabilitation programme to return to "normal", and seeks to criminalise sperm and egg donors while banning the adoption of children by parents of different religions.

The Bill was widely debated earlier this year after it was included in the priority programme of Parliament's 2020 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), along with several other problematic Bills.

Members of the public and activists have heavily criticised the 98-page draft Bill as it included provisions interfering in personal matters and attempts to bring back the traditional and patriarchal way of managing households.

Besides Netty and Ali, the other initiators of the family resilience Bill were Ledia Hanifa of the PKS, Endang Maria Astuti of Golkar and Sodik Mudjahid of Gerindra.

But Golkar, Gerindra and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have denied they are supporting the Bill, saying any expression of support came from individual lawmakers acting on their own.

In July, the House and the government revised the 2020 Prolegnas list, approving to drop 16 of 50 Bills and adding three more.

However, the family resilience Bill and other controversial Bills, such as the omnibus Bill on job creation and Bills on criminal code, correctional centre and Pancasila ideology guidelines, have remained on the list.

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