Top of page

Article Indonesia: Law Proposed to Protect Religious Minorities

(June 11, 2015) Indonesia’s government has proposed a law on the protection of religious minorities. It is currently listed as in committee with the legislature, the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat. (Rancangan Undang-Undang Tentang Perlindungan Umat Beragama [Draft Law on the Protection of Religious Communities], Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat website (last visited June 8, 2015).) While some leaders of religious minority groups and rights organizations have welcomed the draft law, others have stated that it is inadequate to protect persecuted minorities. (Govt Does Not Protect Religious Minorities: Setara, JAKARTA POST (June 8, 2015).)

Background to the Proposal

The plan to prepare this legislation was announced last October by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin. (Indonesia Drafting Bill to Protect All Religions, CITIZEN DAILY (Dec. 21, 2014).) Indonesia is a majority Muslim country, with over 87% following Islam. (Indonesia, WORLD FACTBOOK (last visited June 9, 2015).) The plan will include all major and minor religions in Indonesia, where there are six recognized major faiths: Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Protestantism, in addition to Islam. Saifuddin stated on October 29, 2014, “[i]n the next six months, we will prepare this bill to protect all religious groups, including those outside of the six major religions … .” He added that the law “will protect everyone’s right to religious freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution. It includes the right to believe in whatever they choose to lay their faith in and the independence to practice their beliefs. We hope the bill can improve the quality of life.” (Indonesia Drafting Bill to Protect All Religions, supra.)

The Minister noted that the law would protect groups from attacks on places of worship or attempts to close those places. (Id.) The legislation was also expected to impact aspects of religious life connected to public places, such as proselytizing, funerals, and construction of places of worship. (Govt Does Not Protect Religious Minorities: Setara, supra.) In addition, the government plans to hold interfaith forums to promote understanding between groups. (Indonesia Drafting Bill to Protect All Religions, supra.)

Reactions to the Draft

Professor of interfaith studies Novriantoni Kahar of Paramadina University in Jakarta spoke positively about the plan for the law, stating that he hopes it increases religious tolerance. He suggested that the law include a ban on hate speech and noted that the effectiveness of the law in protecting minority religious groups from attacks depends on enforcement. “It is important to understand how the law will be applied. … All this time such laws have been applied to minorities while radicals have walked free.” (Id.) There were also positive reactions to the idea of the legislation from Sheila Soraya, a spokeswoman for the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, and Reverend Palti Panjaitan, pastor of Filadelfia Batak Protestant Church, both of which are minority religious communities in Indonesia. (Id.)

On June 8, 2015, the religious freedom rights group Setara Institute criticized the draft as not providing enough protection for minorities, which it says are increasingly persecuted in Indonesia. According to the Deputy Chairperson of the Institute, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the draft “upholds that the state can intervene in freedom of religion to maintain stability and security at the expense of minority groups.” (Govt Does Not Protect Religious Minorities: Setara, supra.) He added that the legislation favors the large religious groups and that the Institute would advocate that the government create a comprehensive policy to end discrimination based on religion. (Id.)

About this Item

Title

  • Indonesia: Law Proposed to Protect Religious Minorities

Online Format

  • web page

Rights & Access

Publications of the Library of Congress are works of the United States Government as defined in the United States Code 17 U.S.C. §105 and therefore are not subject to copyright and are free to use and reuse.  The Library of Congress has no objection to the international use and reuse of Library U.S. Government works on loc.gov. These works are also available for worldwide use and reuse under CC0 1.0 Universal. 

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Credit Line: Law Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Constance. Indonesia: Law Proposed to Protect Religious Minorities. 2015. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-06-11/indonesia-law-proposed-to-protect-religious-minorities/.

APA citation style:

Johnson, C. (2015) Indonesia: Law Proposed to Protect Religious Minorities. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-06-11/indonesia-law-proposed-to-protect-religious-minorities/.

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Constance. Indonesia: Law Proposed to Protect Religious Minorities. 2015. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-06-11/indonesia-law-proposed-to-protect-religious-minorities/>.