Indonesia is Considering a ‘Premarital Sex’ Law - Which Will Also Affect Tourists

Indonesia is Considering a ‘Premarital Sex’ Law – Which Will Also Affect Tourists

Find out what the new law entails, and how it might affect your next trip to Indonesia.

Indonesia’s parliamentary body has recently come up with a new criminal code, which has garnered criticism from human rights groups around the world for its shockingly backward stance. This new law is not in place yet, but here is what you should know about it.

What exactly is this new law?

Among other potential rulings (which includes curfews for women), the code will criminalise extramarital sex.

If the new law is passed in parliament, it will mean that all types of sex outside of marriage will be criminalized. This also includes consensual sex, which is considered criminal as long as both parties are not married to each other. If convicted under this new law, offenders could face up to a year in prison, a fine of up to ten million rupiah, or both.

Because of this new law, Indonesia’s government has received flak from human rights groups both locally and internationally. In a recent turn of events, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has postponed a parliamentary voting to amend the proposed law.

What does it mean for travellers to Indonesia?

If put into place, this new law will also apply to foreigners visiting Indonesia. While foreign tourists are expected to follow a country’s laws, the new law basically restricts non-married couples from engaging in any forms of sexual activities. These include the paradise islands of Bali and Lombok, which will likely be the most affected regions in the island nation.

Besides the blasphemous law and its effect on non-married couples, it will also include married LGBT couples who are visiting Indonesia for their honeymoon. As homosexual marriages are not recognized in Indonesia, LGBT couples could face prosecution for engaging in sexual activities – even if they are legally married overseas.

Bali, a favourite destination among couples, will also be affected

While the new law has not been put in place, it could adversely affect tourism to Indonesia’s romantic island destination, Bali. 

Bali receives around 5.5 million tourists each year, with the island reportedly welcoming 1.3 million visitors in the first three months of 2019. According to the local tourism board, these figures are also expected to rise, as Bali has seen an increase in tourists for the past few quarters.

One of the rampant problems in Bali is extortion by law enforcement. Bali’s police threaten unsuspecting tourists with their local laws, before asking for bribes in exchange for their protection. If the new laws come into effect, unsuspecting couples might see themselves in deep water as they will be under the scrutiny of local authorities.

While most countries have not released any statement about the issue, Australia has issued a travel advisory regarding the revised code of law. Even though the laws are not in place, the Australian Foreign Affairs Ministry has warned its citizens that “a large number of laws may change and these will also apply to foreign residents and visitors, including tourists”.

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Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.

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