Indonesian court rejects petition against extramarital sex

Judges read their verdict on the case of a petition seeking to make gay sex and sex outside marriage illegal during a hearing at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Indonesian court rejects petition against extramarital sex

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s top justices narrowly voted against a petition that sought to criminalize homosexual sex and heterosexual outside marriage.
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.


Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

Updated 15 min 15 sec ago
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Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

TOKYO: Japan’s two largest airlines have changed “Taiwan” to “China Taiwan” on their Chinese-language websites, officials said Tuesday, a move likely to please Beijing but anger the self-ruled island.
The change was made on June 12 and is meant to accommodate customers, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said.
The description remains “Taiwan” on their websites in Japanese and other languages.
Both carriers said they had not received any protest from Taiwan so far, though Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported Taiwan’s foreign ministry would lodge a complaint with the airlines through Japan’s de-facto diplomatic mission in Taipei.
“We made the judgment (to change the name) while consulting and reporting to the transport ministry and foreign ministry,” a spokesman at Japan Airlines said.
“The change came on June 12 as our preparations were done by then,” he said.
June 12 was the date of the historic summit between North Korea and the United States, which attracted international attention.
“We chose a description that is easy to understand and acceptable for users of our websites,” added the JAL official, who declined to be named.
A spokesman at ANA said the change was intended to make the description “easy to understand and acceptable for customers when they use our websites.”
“We do not mean any particular group of customers here but mean all customers,” he said without elaborating further.
The airlines are not the only international carriers who have made the change recently, with Australia’s Qantas earlier this month defending its decision to list Taiwan as part of China.
The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines in April, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standard of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.
Japan’s ties with China are improving after years of acrimony over historical and territorial issues.
Japan has close business ties with Taiwan but has acknowledged the “One China” policy, which describes Taiwan as an integral part of China.
Asked about the change, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo was “not in favor of government authorities demanding certain measures from private companies based on a specific political stance.”
“The government has expressed Japan’s interest in this issue on the Chinese side,” he added.