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Indonesia (incl. Bali) | 1 year imprisonment sex outside marriage

TRAVEL NEWS – December 06, 2022: The Indonesian parliament has passed legislation that bans sex outside marriage in Indonesia (and therefore Bali). Those who break the law risk prison sentences of up to one year. It's a move critics see as a setback to freedoms in the world's third-largest democracy.

The decision comes as a slap in the face to the Indonesian tourism sector. Bali alone received an average of 5 million Western tourists per year (before the corona crisis). Western governments are very concerned about the consequences, including The Netherlands en Australië in particular.

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New law with severe penalties

The new law, which, among other things, makes sex outside marriage illegal, is applies to both Indonesians and visiting foreigners. In addition to sex outside marriage, it also prohibits cohabitation between unmarried couples.

Rights groups have strongly protested the changes, denouncing the crackdown on civil liberties and a shift towards religious fundamentalism. Unfortunately without success.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told parliament: “We did our best to accommodate the important issues and different views that were discussed. However, it is time for us to take a historic decision on amending the Penal Code and the Colonial Penal Code that we (from The Netherlands) have inherited, leave behind us.”

Sex outside marriage illegal | Indonesia (and therefore Bali) introduces new law

Tourism sector shocked

The new law does not apply immediately. It takes a minimum of one month to a maximum of three years to switch from the old law to the new one. The approval comes even after the tourism industry warned it would seriously damage Indonesia's image as a tourism and investment destination.

One year in prison

Sex outside marriage can be punished by the new law with one year in prison. Cohabitation is punishable by six months imprisonment. This is shocking, as Bali is one of the most popular long-distance travel destinations among the Dutch. Australian tourists are also plentiful.

Dutch tourists are at risk

As soon as the law comes into force, Dutch tourists will be in immediate danger. For example, a tourist who visits 'free' Bali and has had consensual sex without being married can be prosecuted for this. Bali is seen as a free island and is mainly Hindu. Nevertheless, the island does fall under (mainly Islamic) Indonesian law, where the laws are becoming increasingly strict.

Rights groups say the new laws underscore a growing shift toward extreme Islamic fundamentalism in a country that has been praised for decades for its religious tolerance. This religious tolerance has laid the foundation in the growth of the country's tourism sector.

Now that the new, strict laws are finally being introduced, hotels and tour operators in Bali, among others, are very concerned. They say they fear Dutch and Australian backpackers will avoid Indonesia and the island of Bali in the near future.

Sex outside marriage illegal | Indonesia (and therefore Bali) introduces new law
Sex outside marriage illegal | Indonesia (and therefore Bali) introduces new law

Contraception and abortion are also crimes

The new law says promoting contraception and religious profanity is also illegal. It also maintains that abortion is a crime, but adds exceptions for women with life-threatening medical conditions and for rape.

Plan your holiday to Asia here

Source: The Guardian
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