A bid by religious activists to outlaw sex outside marriage and gay sex has been narrowly rejected by courts.

The court’s decision bolstered social liberals in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Indonesia has taken a conservative turn in recent years, with the government cracking down on alcohol sales and banning some pornographic online content, as traditional Islam plays an increasingly important role in politics reports the WSJ.

A 467-page ruling against the Outlaw petition, the Constitutional Court said existing laws covering adultery and gay sex don’t contradict the country’s 1945 constitution, and that it is beyond the court’s purview to make or revise laws. The judge can annul regulations that run counter to the structure of the constitution.

 

Supporters of the Family Love Alliance react after the court ruling. PHOTO: TATAN SYUFLANA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Still, four of nine judges took dissenting positions. They argued that “homosexuality is one of the sexual behaviours …that is extremely reprehensible before religious laws…and the living law.” They agreed the court should refrain from acting as a legislative body, but argued such restrictions don’t apply when a law reduces or opposes religious values or living law.

The petition, organised by the Family Love Alliance, a group of activists and conservative academics, had asked the court to expand articles on adultery and gay sex in the country’s criminal code such that all consensual sexual acts outside marriage would be outlawed.

It isn’t a crime to be LGBT in most of the country, but in recent years the climate has grown more hostile. In 2015, Aceh province where Islamic law prevails made gay sex It isn’t a crime to be LGBT in most of the country, but in recent years the climate has grown more hostile. In 2015, Aceh province where Islamic law prevails—made gay sex punishable by up to 100 lashes.

Puri Kencana Putri, the campaign manager of Amnesty International Indonesia, said Thursday’s split decision highlighted a conservatism within government institutions. “There is a trend of conservative groups using legal channels to revise certain laws in their favour,” she said. “That grows as the government refuses to firmly recognise minority groups’ rights, including those of the LGBT group.”