And western embassies in Jakarta are considering issuing fresh travel warnings to their nationals about visiting Indonesia if, as expected, the laws are passed by the parliament by the end of the month.
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Other changes to Indonesian law that have been listed in the bill include making it illegal to criticise the president (a law struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2006), spread communist ideology, making it illegal for couples who aren’t married to live together, banning the display of contraception to a minor, curbing access to abortion and criminalising fake news, bestiality and black magic.
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Professor Tim Lindsey, who is the director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, said the current parliament seemed to be in an “insane rush” to pass into law a new criminal code that was “highly regressive”.
It would be easy for a police officer in Bali to say you aren’t married, you have to pay me. That’s a quite likely scenario.
The legal changes were the result of a growing “moral panic” and increasing conservatism in the majority Muslim country, Lindsey said, that had also snared gay and lesbian couples and other minority groups.
Colin Singer, the chairman of NGO Indonesia International Initiatives, said the proposed laws could result in foreign tourists who d a hotel room with someone they were not married to “receiving a free holiday in Kerobokan prison”.
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.
If passed, he said, it would be a couple of years before the laws were enforced.
Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at Singapore’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the legal changes could have a massive impact on tourism to Bali and other parts of Indonesia at a time when President Joko Widodo is trying to promote a “ten new Balis” strategy to encourage visitors to travel to other parts of Indonesia.
“European missions in Jakarta have privately informed members of the DPR [the national parliament] that they will have to update their travel warnings and there will be a flood of bad press. That advice has been dismissed,” he said.
Lindsey said that “of course” foreign missions, including Australia, would update their travel advice because “it’s a very real risk and they will have to warn the more than one million Aussies who travel there each year”.
President Joko had the power to issue an emergency regulation to stop the laws coming into effect, Lindsey said, but he “hadn’t shown a lot of courage recently” and that meant the Constitutional Court was likely the last chance to strike down the laws.
“I understand if we can’t hold hands or kiss in a temple or religious places. But I don’t want to worry about doing something, a normal thing back home, and getting in trouble for it.
Yes, I would reconsider coming to Bali,” she said.
Perth woman Kelly Ann, who did not want to provide her last name, said the legal change wouldn’t affect her but added that “I believe those who fall into this category will not come.
We will come again next year but it [Bali] will lose some people”.
Overseas, often [civil] partnerships instead of marriage is the norm,” he said.