JAKARTA • A bid to make all sex outside marriage illegal was rejected by a top Indonesian court yesterday, in a ruling that surprised many as concerns grow about rising intolerance in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.
Five out of nine judges on the Constitutional Court in Jakarta narrowly rejected the push to criminalise extramarital relations, including gay sex. The unsuccessful petition would have affected both unmarried heterosexuals and gay people, who cannot marry in Indonesia.
It comes several months after the arrests of a group of men accused of holding a "gay party" and a wave of anti-LGBT rhetoric.
"This is a victory not only for LGBT communities, it's a victory for common sense," said gay rights activist Hartoyo, who goes by one name. "We live together as a nation and we must respect our differences," he added.
The court had been hearing a judicial review filed by Islamic activist group the Family Love Alliance that sought to alter the criminal code.
It argued that the influence of the gay community has been spreading, particularly since the United States legalised same-sex marriage, resulting in what it called "moral degradation".
In its decision, the court said it had no authority on the matter since passing new laws was the job of Indonesia's Parliament.
"The Constitutional Court cannot intervene in the politics of the penal code," it added.