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Indonesia passes a law that criminalizes sex outside of marriage. Bali tries to put travelers at ease

Will tourism in Indonesia take a hit? The decision adopted by the parliament on December 6 has caused a lot of controversy. The latter approved a number of amendments that prohibit sexual relations outside of marriage, as well as adultery. A project that has been condemned by various human rights organizations and a number of individuals, including Indonesian writer Julia Suryakusuma. For them, the text is an attack on civil liberties and the rights of the LGBTQ community in the archipelago. While the text has hit Indonesians hard, some countries, such as the United States, have also expressed their fears for their own citizens. The question is, will unmarried tourists be able to stay together in a hotel room in the country without worry?

The questioning is strongest in Bali, one of Asia’s tourism strongholds. The Hindu-majority Indonesian island is known for its more liberal customs than the rest of the country. Governor Wayne Koster wanted to reassure would-be travelers in a press release. They and those who “Visiting or residing in Bali will not worry about the entry into force of the Indonesian Criminal Code.”, he insisted. And add: “When registering in tourist accommodation (…) there will be no family status check, there will be no checks by officials or community leaders.”.

“Counterproductive”

Will this announcement calm the fears of some travelers? The text adopted by the Indonesian parliament, which is scheduled to enter into force in 2025, makes sex outside of marriage punishable by one year and six months in prison for unmarried couples living together. As Wayan Koster reminds, criminal prosecution can be started only in the event of a complaint by a parent, spouse or child. In other words, foreign tourists should not be affected by these new rules either in Bali or in the rest of the country. Indonesian authorities have tried to reassure would-be travelers and tourism-based companies. “I want to talk to foreign tourists saying: “Come to Indonesia, this article will not haunt you.” This was announced to journalists by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Indonesia, Edward Omar Sharif Hiarij.

Now the symbolism remains. Many decry this new legislation as the evolution of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, into a form of religious fundamentalism. For local players, there is still a question about the impact of this law on tourism activities. Maulana Yusran, deputy head of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Council, said that this new Penal Code. “Completely Counterproductive”especially when tourism is growing again two years after the epidemic.

Source: Le Figaro

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