The Ulema Council described the decision as “another blow” to the country’s predominantly Muslim population. “We really regret the decision,” council spokesman Muhyiddin Junaidi told Arab News.
Five out of nine judges rejected in its entirety the petition filed by 12 people under the conservative Family Love Alliance (AILA).
The decision came after the court in November ruled in favor of religious freedom, ordering the state to list indigenous faiths and other religions, apart from the country’s six officially recognized ones, in citizens’ national identity cards.
AILA had demanded that the court amend three articles in the Criminal Code by expanding the definition of adultery to include non-marital sex.
The group’s main arguments for the amendments were “family resilience” and “protection of religious values in Indonesia,” as stated in the court document, which said the authority to amend laws lies with MPs, not the court.
A Jakarta-based rights group and one of the ruling’s proponents, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), welcomed the decision.
“If the petition had been granted, there would’ve been over-criminalization in the country, and the state would be interfering too much in citizens’ private domain,” the ICJR’s executive director, Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono, told Arab News.
Rita Soebagio, one of the petitioners, told Arab News that the court decision “shows that we face an uphill battle to instil religious norms in our society.” She said the Criminal Code contains Western values from the Dutch colonial era.