JAKARTA: Tourists are concerned about Indonesia’s new criminal code that includes a ban on sex outside of marriage, reported NHK World.
The controversial revisions of the colonial-era penal code are leaving some in the tourism industry worried travellers may be deterred from visiting as the tourism sector still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo approved the revision earlier this week. It will apply to both citizens and foreigners in the country, including tourists, reported NHK World.
Violators will face up to a year in prison or fines. The code also prohibits unmarried couples from living together. Some local authorities have been cracking down on sex outside marriage, such as raids on hotels.
There are worries that the law will scare away tourists and investors, even before it goes into effect in three years, reported NHK World.
The national government says under the code, local authorities won’t be free to do so, meaning the code will actually be protecting everyone, including foreign tourist. Only the families of those involved will be able to alert authorities.
There are worries in the tourism industry in Bali that the code will take another bite out of visitor numbers.
With foreign arrivals to Bali expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of 6 million by 2025, Indonesia’s national tourism board has described the new code as “totally counterproductive”.
Chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agency Bali, I Putu Winastra, said, “Especially in European countries, many people live together without getting married and even have children. We must protect their privacy.”
He is calling on the government to explain the code so people in other countries can fully understand it, reported NHK World.
Simon Butt — a professor and director of the centre for Asian and Pacific law at the University of Sydney’s law school — said the sex ban for unmarried couples was unlikely to affect tourists.
“Provided that no such complaints are made to Indonesian police,” Professor Butt warned.
“Police cannot proceed with investigating adultery or cohabitation without a complaint. Not just anyone can make a complaint,” he added. (ANI)