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No Sex if Not Married: The Law That Could Affect Tourism in Bali

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country and also a popular destination for international tourists, has proposed a new penal code that criminalises unmarried couples who live together as husband and wife outside wedlock.

“The state must protect citizens from behaviour that is contrary to the supreme precepts of God,” said Nasir Djamil, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party.

Under the proposed laws, the offenders could be jailed for six months or face a maximum fine of 10 million rupiahs, which is three months’ salary for many Indonesians.

Will this law be effective on foreign tourists as well? Possibly.

In the wake of such a draconian law coming into effect by the end of the month just before the peak tourist season comes to an end, the western embassies in Jakarta are considering issuing travel advisories to its nationals.

The draft version of the law outlines a maximum jail period of up to six months, though other drafts have suggested jail time of up to one year.

Concerns are being raised whether foreign tourists will have to carry their marriage certificate while vacationing at Bali. Won’t single people be able to a hotel room with someone else? Won’t the law expose foreign tourists to extortion and harassment?

Bali’s tourism board, however, is playing down the implications.

Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, tourism board head, said the board is not worried, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald

“We are not worried, the law requires a person to report such a case. As a tourism destination, we have to also observe international law. Overseas, often [civil] partnerships instead of marriage is the norm,” he said.

“Bali has always welcomed all tourists, we will continue to do so, even with a new penal code.”