Indonesia bill on family targets surrogacy, 'sexual deviations'

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Politicians from four Indonesian parties are backing a so-called “Family Resilience” bill that would outlaw surrogacy and require LGBT people to seek treatment at rehabilitation centers, prompting outrage on social media and criticism from activists.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, is seeing a shift towards greater conservativism including growing state and public hostility against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

One of the bill’s proponents, Ledia Hanifa of the opposition Prosperous Justice party, a conservative Islamic party, said in a statement posted on parliament’s website that the proposed bill was intended to foster “family-based development.”

According to a draft reviewed by Reuters, the family is defined as the smallest unit of society composed of married couples, married couples with children, and single parents.

The bill states that wives must “take care of household-related matters” and “treat the husband and the child well.”

The bill is also seeking a maximum penalty of seven years in prison for surrogacy.

Under the bill, homosexuality, incest and sadomasochism are defined as “sexual deviations” and it wants people to report themselves to government-sanctioned rehabilitation centers for treatment.

The bill has been included on parliament’s priority list for the 2020-2024 period, though proponents have yet to discuss it with the government’s related ministries.

Parties supporting President Joko Widodo currently control 74% of seats in parliament so any bill would likely need government blessing to gain traction.

Supratman Andi Agtas, a member of parliament who heads a body overseeing the agenda of lawmakers, said a draft would be sent to the president before any deliberation between MPs and related ministries could start.

Fadjroel Rachman, a spokesman for the president, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Discussion about the bill has been trending on social media in Indonesia this week with many of the posts critical of the draft, which has also been condemned by rights groups.

“It’s a very patriarchal bill and it will set back progress in gender equality and women’s rights protection,” Usman Hamid of Amnesty International Indonesia told Reuters.

Tunggal Pawestri, a gender rights activist, said the bill would be harmful for anyone who did not have a marriage certificate.

“What about those who hold traditional beliefs who can’t register their marriages?” she said. “And also people who can’t afford to register the marriages?”

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