Police in the Indonesian city of Makassar carried out “condom raids” at convenience stores across the city Tuesday in an effort to prevent sexual intercourse from taking place during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The Jakarta Post reports that personnel from the Makassar Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) raided minimarkets in several locations in Ujung Pandang district, confiscating hundreds of packaged condoms that were on sale.
Makassar Satpol PP chief Iman Hud said the agency had conducted similar raids in previous years ahead of New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day to prevent “negative acts” such as extramarital sex.
“As in previous years and on Valentine’s Day, we also raided mini-markets that sold condoms blatantly without considering the negative impact, which is triggering a high rate of prostitution and free sex among the younger generation,” Iman told tribunnews.com.
Iman added that he was merely following regulation banning the sale of contraception, which religious authorities fear promotes sex among young people.
“We want to prevent underage children from buying [condoms],” he said. “We don’t want to restrict the sales or the usage, but the buyers must be legal couples and not unmarried people.”
In September, Indonesian lawmakers introduced legislation to outlaw homosexual and pre-marital sex as part of a religious shakeup championed by the country’s theocratic Islamic leadership. Under the proposed legislation, those found guilty of pre-marital or extramarital sex would face fines or prison sentences of between six months and a year.
There were also penalties for anyone “showing or offering” contraception to those under 18, with parents discouraged from teaching their children about sex in favor of authorized government workers doing so. The bill would also have tightened censorship laws by making it illegal to insult the president and imposed a near-complete ban on abortion.
President Joko Widodo eventually postponed a vote on the legislation amid concerns that it would damage the country’s important tourism industry, with millions of tourists visiting the island of Bali and other beach destinations in the Southeast Asian nation every year.
Pressure to scrap the bill also increased following the outbreak of mass demonstrations and international criticism from governments human rights organizations.
“After hearing from various groups with objections to aspects of the law, I’ve decided that some of it needs further deliberation,” he said in a televised address. “The justice minister has been told to convey my views to parliament and that ratification of the criminal code should be postponed and not passed.”
Despite being officially pluralist, Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world, with a population comprising of at least 225 million Muslims. Following Widodo’s election this year, tensions have flared in recent years between his hardline conservative supporters and liberal reformers.