Indonesia has banned sex outside marriage and live-ins by unmarried couples, a move that could have a major impact on tourism in Bali.
There are fears that the new criminal code will affect tourism in Bali (Photo: Reuters)
By India Today Web Desk: Indonesia recently passed a new criminal code that includes outlawing sex outside marriage and cohabitation and the new laws apply to both Indonesians and foreigners alike.
The new law punishes extramarital sex with up to a year in prison. Couples who live together without being legally married will also face jail, as per the new criminal code. These, along with other provisions, have sparked fear among unmarried foreign couples visiting Bali, Indonesia’s holiday island.
So how will the new laws affect Indonesia’s vital tourism sector and especially Bali?
Although the changes are not expected to kick in for at least another three years, tourism industry officials believe that the new criminal code would put foreigners off visiting Bali.
This means it is unlikely that holidays booked for the next year or two will be affected, and travellers should experience Bali as they have in previous years, the Independent reported.
Moreover, the two offences mentioned above “complaint offences” meaning they do not apply unless a close member of the family – a husband or wife, a parent or child – reports the matter to the police.
That makes it unlikely the new provisions would ever be deployed against an unmarried foreign tourist couple, although it’s possible they could be used against a foreigner with an Indonesian partner if the Indonesian’s family reports them.
“Whilst Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim faith country, Bali is the exception with 87 per cent of people identify as Hindu. We’ll continue to work with our destination partners to understand more about the situation as it develops, but right now it [new criminal code] is a draft and there is no need for existing customers, or anyone considering a holiday to Bali, to be concerned,” a tour operator was quoted as saying by the Independent.
The new laws are seen as a response to rising religious conservatism in Muslim-majority Indonesia in recent years, with parts of the country enforcing strict Islamic codes.
It is also feared the new law will be used to target gay and lesbian people, who cannot marry under Indonesian law. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia (except in the province of Aceh) but opponents of the new code say it criminalises gay and lesbian people by stealth.
The new code also contains provisions that impose jail terms for even explaining how to obtain contraception. There are exceptions for government family planning activities, but this provision limits women’s freedom to choose.
Other provisions impose a four-year sentence on any woman who has an abortion, and longer terms for those who perform it (although there are exceptions for rape victims and medical emergencies).
(With inputs from PTI)