Indonesia sex ban: everything you need to know

Cohabitation, adultery, abortion, blasphemy and insulting the president will also be illegal

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Couple in Bali, Indonesia
Photograph: Shutterstock

If you’re planning on heading to Indonesia (including the dream island destination of Bali) as a couple in the next few years, it might be worth reconsidering. The country has now implemented a new criminal code that will make a lot of things illegal – including having sex outside of marriage.

Under the new code, unmarried people caught having sex could serve up to a year in prison, and cohabitation will also be illegal. So what does that mean if you and your partner aren’t married and have been dreaming of a Bali digital nomad lifestyle? According to the new penal code, you could get time in jail just for living or staying with a partner you aren’t married to.

But it looks as though laws will not apply to foreign visitors after all. Even so, the rules represent a strict new way of life for Indonesians. Also illegal will be abortion (after 12 weeks, aside from in cases of rape and where the mother is in medical danger), adultery, blasphemy and the promotion of contraception. Indonesians also won’t be allowed to insult the Indonesian president, nor will they be able to express views that are contrary to the state’s ideology.

Bali’s governor Wayan Koster says the extramarital sex law won’t affect tourists, because it can only be prosecuted if reported by someone’s own parents, children or spouse. He also said that marital status would not be checked upon guests arrival at any of Bali’s hotels, villas, spas and guest houses.

However, the new code may still discourage some travellers from visiting Indonesia, as visitors might be reluctant to support a country that enforces such strict moral codes on its own citizens. It isn’t yet known for sure how the other laws will be imposed – or how strictly the new code will be enforced around the rest of Indonesia.

Indonesia’s new criminal code will take up to three years to be fully implemented, but is expected to face legal challenges.

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