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Couple in Bali, Indonesia
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Indonesia is banning sex outside marriage – including for overseas travellers

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

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

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, any unmarried people caught having sex could serve up to a year in prison. Cohabitation will also be illegal, so if you and your partner aren’t married and have been dreaming of a Bali digital nomad lifestyle, it’s probably worth looking elsewhere. 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.

The new laws apply to both Indonesians and foreign visitors – and they don’t stop at extramarital sex and cohabitation. 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.

On top of all that, you also won’t be allowed to insult the Indonesian president, nor will you be able to express views that are contrary to the state’s ideology.

If all this sounds a bit strict and limiting, that’s because it absolutely is. You’d imagine the new laws could have devastating consequences for tourism throughout Indonesia – especially for travelling couples. Not to mention the impact it’ll have on Indonesians, who will have to live with these laws in their everyday lives.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s currently unclear just how much Indonesia’s new laws will be enforced for visitors. 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 can 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. 

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