Indonesia Banning Premarital Sex & Cohabitation

Indonesia Banning Premarital Sex & Cohabitation

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Traveling internationally can be tricky at times. Not only do you have to learn the local customs of a destination, but you also have to understand the laws of that place. Along those lines, some legislation has just passed in Indonesia, which may make the country (and in particular Bali) a much less appealing and practical place to visit…

I first wrote about this a few days ago when the legislation was being considered, but I wanted to post an update, as this has now passed, so we have some more details about the implementation of this law.

Indonesia passes strict new conservative laws

Indonesia’s parliament has today passed a new criminal code, which has been in the works for decades. Most significantly, the legislation bans sex outside of marriage, as well as cohabitation before marriage. Sex outside of marriage will be punishable by up to one year in jail, while cohabitation will be punishable by up to six months in jail. However, there are limits on who can report these “crimes” — for example, only direct relatives can report sex outside of marriage.

Furthermore, Indonesia is banning insulting the president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to Indonesia’s state ideology. This will be punishable by up to three years in jail, though this is a charge that could only be reported by the president.

These new laws will apply not just to locals, but also to foreign visitors. Obviously this poses some major concerns, given that Indonesia (especially Bali) is a big holiday destination for foreigners. The catch here is that while this law has been passed, it will take up to three years to be implemented.

Indonesia’s deputy justice minister says that he’s “proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values.” Interestingly Indonesia tried to enact a similar law in 2019, but saw widespread protests, so it didn’t end up passing. This has now passed and there are no signs of the same levels of public outcry, but then again, we’re potentially years from this being implemented.

Indonesia will become a less appealing place to visit

What does this change mean for travelers?

As a gay married dude with a kid, I think my views on the laws as such are pretty obvious. But this blog isn’t about judging the laws of various countries, but rather about the implications for travelers.

Of course it’s important to emphasize that while this law has been passed, it could be up to three years before these new restrictions and punishments are actually enacted. So for the immediate future, nothing is changing.

When considering travel to Indonesia, Bali is the first place that comes to mind, as it’s Indonesia’s biggest foreign tourist destination. It’s known for being pretty liberal as far as Indonesia goes, and is a pretty accepting place. A lot of people go there to party, and I’d imagine (gasp!) that there might just be some premarital sex and/or cohabitation going on there.

Both the premarital sex and cohabitation laws are particularly problematic. If cohabitation outside of marriage is banned, will travelers be required to present a marriage certificate when checking into a hotel in Indonesia? Suffice it to say that this will have a major impact on tourism to Bali. Obviously knowing that you could be jailed for having premarital sex is a major issue as well.

Realistically speaking, the implications for travelers will really depend on how closely all of this is enforced. There are plenty of countries that have problematic laws, but where they’re enforced such a small percentage of the time that you have a higher chance of getting caught up in a mass shooting in the United States than being charged with something in one of those countries. For example, the UAE bans same-sex activity, but there have been no known arrests or prosecutions for that since 2015.

I certainly wouldn’t want to be a guinea pig in this experiment in Indonesia. I imagine that these laws will cause potential investors in the country to be cautious for some period of time, especially if they have businesses relying on foreign tourists.

This will be very bad news for visiting Bali

Bottom line

Indonesia has passed strict new laws banning premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and saying bad things about the government. While Indonesia has long been a fairly conservative country, laws like this are likely to make a lot of travelers think twice. While this has now passed, it could take up to three years until the new restrictions are implemented, so only time will tell how this plays out.

What do you make of these changes to Indonesia’s laws?

Conversations (64)
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  1. Emily Guest

    Not an issue for tourists.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-63948740

  2. jack Guest

    Anyone who has visited Indonesia knows that this new law is an attempt to appease conservative muslims. It will not affect tourists, and will probably not affect the multi million dollar a year prostitution business in Jakarta, where entire hotels have been converted into brothels, with each floor specializing on a different ethnicity -- (European, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and local), and where some parts of the country (Indramayu) are almost completely dependent on remittances sent...

    Anyone who has visited Indonesia knows that this new law is an attempt to appease conservative muslims. It will not affect tourists, and will probably not affect the multi million dollar a year prostitution business in Jakarta, where entire hotels have been converted into brothels, with each floor specializing on a different ethnicity -- (European, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and local), and where some parts of the country (Indramayu) are almost completely dependent on remittances sent back home by their daughters. Where are the top military and government officials going to go to party -- if the high class brothels shut down? I am rolling on the floor laughing...

    The law will be used to selectively go after people that the government has nothing else on -- a weapon to use against political opponents if all else fails.

  3. Anon Guest

    So basically a prequel to what Republicans want to do in the US?

    Got it!

    1. Queen Khia Guest

      Imagine being ignorant enough to think this is true.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      Agreed with Queen. This law limits what men can do. That's not on the red agenda.

  4. Icarus Guest

    The legislation will also apply to visitors

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-63874633

    This leaves the potential for their morality police, or any suspicious or homophobic hotel employees, to make a complaint.

    It’s not the government’s business to get involved with private lives and what’s going on in the bedroom. Most of the ones implementing the laws are hypocrites anyhow, as we usually discover over time.

  5. philelltt Member

    There will be up to 3 years transition period until the new laws are enacted. It's good that in this article, there was mention of this procedure taking time. During the interim period the laws could go to court and be contested. They could be amended. Criminal codes are often amended. It is unfortunate that Sebastian Poggel (writing as Powel) on loyalty lobby has done a story which makes it seem immediate. Then again, he...

    There will be up to 3 years transition period until the new laws are enacted. It's good that in this article, there was mention of this procedure taking time. During the interim period the laws could go to court and be contested. They could be amended. Criminal codes are often amended. It is unfortunate that Sebastian Poggel (writing as Powel) on loyalty lobby has done a story which makes it seem immediate. Then again, he was in trouble with Indonesian authority recently, so has an axe to grind. Ben, I'm glad your website is a little more evidence based. I can't see the Indonesian new criminal code having any affect on your family's life. Indeed, reading the responses, there have been no compelling arguments as why Indonesia should or shouldn't revise their criminal code. That's their decision to make.

  6. Alan Diamond

    Many will complain about this new law and why it is wrong but I just view it as another law based on a culture's view of morality and unfortunately the West has similar morality based laws. The best example would be polygamy. In the West it is fine for two dudes to get married yet a dude cannot marry two women. So if an Arab who has multiple wives wants to move to the US...

    Many will complain about this new law and why it is wrong but I just view it as another law based on a culture's view of morality and unfortunately the West has similar morality based laws. The best example would be polygamy. In the West it is fine for two dudes to get married yet a dude cannot marry two women. So if an Arab who has multiple wives wants to move to the US and bring his family, US immigration law only permits him to bring his first wife. How is this also not wrong?

  7. Alex Guest

    Wait i dont get why tourists are concern about this law.
    Only the relatives and spouse marriage can accuse you with this law
    So if you are a tourist visiting bali and have a premarital sex, as long as your family member or spouse not accusing you to the law enforcer, it wont be a problem. Right ?
    Or am i missing something here

    1. Rotuma Diamond

      Because some solo tourists want to meet up with locals.

  8. xlax Guest

    Lucky, If I want to go to Bali from SoCal, which would you suggest: SQ for 107,000 or Eva for 87,500? Thanks.

  9. KingBob Guest

    About 20% of Singapore empties out on weekends for visits to Batam and other nearby Indonesian islands where "anything goes", unlike in stuffy Singapore. Indonesia is an hour ferry ride away with lots of competition keeping ferry prices low. Doubt such a law would ever be enforced.

  10. Lee Guest

    After all of the opining is done, the real question is whether consumers move the revenue needle. And, if the revenue needle does not move, that government will not have a second thought about the legislation. In fact, that government might feel validated and enact further legislation.

  11. iamhere Guest

    This is not news because it was not passed yet. I think it would be better to discuss if it is really passed compared to if it is just in discussion or being considered.

  12. Indonesian Guest

    As Indonesians, we do not feel this law will shed daylight as there is conflicting issues. Until now, only shariah-compliant hotels (which are really limited) requires you to present marriage certificate. So it may not be happening soon.

    1. Mjshort Guest

      It's nice of them to encourage same sex couples who will not be caught by this legislation.

  13. Mak Guest

    What odd comments. Indonesia is turning into Iran, and the most prominent comments are strange fever dreams about . . . Florida. Americans can be so bizarrely provincial . . . the whole world is not about you!

    1. Tsubame Guest

      It's especially ironic since Florida is by far the freest of the United States.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "Florida is by far the freest of the United States."

      What snake oil seller told you THAT? lol

      Try lighting up a doobie in public in Florida without a medical certificate, and seeing how free you remain. Legal in many states, not that one.

      Try having an exotic mammalian pet (something as benign as a mink, or domestic skunk, etc) in Florida... no go.

      Try entering a bar and purchasing liquor past 3am in any...

      "Florida is by far the freest of the United States."

      What snake oil seller told you THAT? lol

      Try lighting up a doobie in public in Florida without a medical certificate, and seeing how free you remain. Legal in many states, not that one.

      Try having an exotic mammalian pet (something as benign as a mink, or domestic skunk, etc) in Florida... no go.

      Try entering a bar and purchasing liquor past 3am in any county in Florida. Even freakin' Louisiana allows more freedom there.

      But please, tell us more about all this "freedom" in Florida... a state so ridiculous that it literally enacted a "Don't Say Gay" bill in July of THIS YEAR, like it's the freakin 1600s or something.

    3. BZ Guest

      So if you can't buy booze at 330AM to bring home to your pet skunk while smoking a doobie in public, you're not free enough? Bro this is a travel blog

    4. Heathrow_LHR Guest

      @BZ

      Despite the (I'm guessing purposely) ridiculous examples given, you've still somehow managed to miss the point. The question wasn't "free enough," since the claim made was "freest" (is that even a word?). Tough to make the case for being most free, when there are plenty of things even more conservative states allow, that the one in question does not.

  14. Kent Guest

    Pretty tough to actually monitor such “criminal acts” I think.

    I’m more interested in the latter about insulting the government, which has huge implications on the freedom of the press and speech for those in the country. As a visitor, why would you insult the government of a country you’re visiting? I can understand this has serious implications for journalists, but shouldn’t be a problem for the casual tourist. Generally best to avoid conversations on...

    Pretty tough to actually monitor such “criminal acts” I think.

    I’m more interested in the latter about insulting the government, which has huge implications on the freedom of the press and speech for those in the country. As a visitor, why would you insult the government of a country you’re visiting? I can understand this has serious implications for journalists, but shouldn’t be a problem for the casual tourist. Generally best to avoid conversations on politics, governance and religion (other than curiosity) when visiting a foreign state in my opinion.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      I wondered about that too. Restricting what you can say about government officials seems dangerous in a country that has (theoretical) elections.

  15. Grey Diamond

    Cohabitation means living together. I don't think this has anything to do with people visiting hotels...

    1. Icarus Guest

      It does. If you are not married to a person of the opposite sex, the law seems it will be illegal to share a room. Of course they won’t recognise same sex as it’s illegal there.

  16. CMorgan Guest

    “Dakota” what the hell does this post have to do with Florida? But since you brought it up Florida is doing just fine and they’re current governor will most likely be our next POTUS.

    1. Icarus Guest

      What republicans want - their own version
      of sharia law.

  17. Baliken Guest

    A whole lot of nothing. Jokowi is playing to the radicals. This won’t have any affect on people.

  18. Intransitmostlikely Guest

    Am traveling with my wife to Bali next weekend. We have different surnames, so I'll be taking a copy of our marriage certificate. Due to this law, this will be our last visit to Bali, and we also won't be visiting Bintan, which was on my list for 2022. Plenty of places to travel in Asia that don't have passed from the Middle She's.

    1. reddargon Diamond

      The law is not passed yet, so no need to bring your marriage certificate.

    2. Fonzi Guest

      Beside only the relatives of affected person can report that to police.

  19. Maryland Guest

    Good going Bali. Scare off lovers in paradise. Who knows, maybe some would have chosen to marry there. And dang. I really liked Bali.

    1. Intransitmostlikely Guest

      If you've never been then don't fall for the marketing. Bali is dirty and often feels dangerous. It's a pretty place but there are other locations as nice or nicer.

  20. Steven E Guest

    What’s Florida got to do with anything remotely to do with this post

    1. TomTom Guest

      Don't worry about it. It's Indonesia, they are unlikely to enforce it.
      Even if they tried to, it would be reversed pretty fast once they realised that the tourist revenue in dropping

    2. Icarus Guest

      It’s what republicans would like the way of life to be, or are you that naive.

  21. Dee Guest

    Apparently if someone goes there unvaccinated they would give them forced vaccines right on the spot and make them quarantine for 5 days.

  22. Andy Diamond

    At least up until now, gay sex is legal, except in Aceh province - and you don’t mention that there is any plan to change that.

    Also reporting seems to be limited to family members … which might reduce the risk, except fot those in a divorce dispute, who might be reported by their spouse ….

  23. Lieflat19 Member

    well this just makes it more of a thrill trying to bed a local and adding a new flag to the list...

  24. UA-NYC Guest

    Indonesian government the GQP a run for its money on extremism

  25. Jan Guest

    Maybe the enforcement would be like in Dubai, which means hardly enforced at all. So this could really mean nothing for the majority of couples, married or otherwise

  26. AlanD Guest

    Some ultra conservative places already require marriage certificates at hotel check-in. In most of those cases it has nothing to do with single people having premarital sex. Instead it is about proving that you’re married to that individual so that you’re proving you’re NOT married to another person. Adultery carries some heavy penalties in some places, obviously disproportionately against women.

  27. Charles Guest

    Indonesia has more muslims than any country on earth, while Bali, is Hindu dominated. Judging from the amount of times I got offered prostitutes while I walked up and down Kuta beach, it's very unlikely these laws will be implemented on paradise island. Last time I checked, prostitution wasn't legal there as well.

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Who knows these days, seems it's been perfectly timed after the G20 to just pass through and become law. Enforcement may not be as extreme as expected, but it will chill tourism nonetheless.

  28. Icarus Guest

    And the conveniently waited until after the g20 summit. Typical of Islam and sharia law. Another country off my list.

    SkyTeam should also drop Garuda.

    Fortunate we can insult our leaders should we wish to do so. Joko Widodo can — off

  29. skimegheath Gold

    Did they learn nothing from COVID? The impact on Bali was huge. Bali is a cheap package destination for young Australians. They could lose that market (poor Kuta!!!)

  30. Roberto Guest

    Indonesia's half baked rules
    are always turned around because of it's awareness of impact of tourism revenue for locals -usual after the lightbulb is switch on-

    Yet in the UAE has homosexuality punishable by death

    Supposedly not enforced but who knows for sure?

    1. Jason Guest

      I've lived in the UAE and had no issues being a homosexual there, nor does anybody I know. It's probably one of the gayer places I've ever lived.

  31. Trish Guest

    The Indo Government bring this up at least once every couple of years for the last 20 years that I can remember. I know Bali is only one small part of Indo, but introducing this on the Island would decimate the tourism which is how they survive.

  32. Up Up & Away Member

    Interestingly, I think that two men sharing a room might have an easier time of it if this law takes effect.

    1. Dakota Guest

      Luckily for conservatives, Florida is full of proud moderates who will happily sit on the sidelines while these "family values" laws get passed.

    2. Ran Guest

      How does it even compare? What a stupid comment

    3. Mantis Guest

      Let's see...Florida is into freedom of speech, keeping power of corporations in check, not into sexualizing children in school, low taxes. Yeah, so oppressive. Freedom is slavery, right big brother? The left in this country has become so unhinged. Being against sexual mutilation of children to the modern left is morally equivalent to Nazism.

    4. Grant Guest

      its abosolute insanity. I live in la right now where I can barely walk outside my apartment in Marina del Rey of all places at night because of the vagrants roaming the streets. we continue to be nickel and dimed with the state gov's taxes literally raping everyones pocketbooks. our glorious public health dept (err dictators) are even in talks to bring back an indoor mask mandate next week. id move in a HEARTBEAT out...

      its abosolute insanity. I live in la right now where I can barely walk outside my apartment in Marina del Rey of all places at night because of the vagrants roaming the streets. we continue to be nickel and dimed with the state gov's taxes literally raping everyones pocketbooks. our glorious public health dept (err dictators) are even in talks to bring back an indoor mask mandate next week. id move in a HEARTBEAT out of this ****hole if it weren't for my family nearby.

    5. Brodie Guest

      So move to another city. I have zero homeless peeps where I live in So Cal. You are choosing to live there and play victim. Hilarious

    6. Ron Sanctdemonious Guest

      Don’t say gay…or you will go to jail.

    7. Bob Guest

      Unhinged left... Yes you're right. All those jan 6th rioters were actually fine folks from Berkeley ca and claiming anything you lose as a steal even if you can't provide a lick of proof is very left. That's so hinged.

      Oh and keeping Disney in check by screwing over FL's constituents. Yeah that went really well didn't it? So well the gov don't even want to mention it again. Maybe next time he will...

      Unhinged left... Yes you're right. All those jan 6th rioters were actually fine folks from Berkeley ca and claiming anything you lose as a steal even if you can't provide a lick of proof is very left. That's so hinged.

      Oh and keeping Disney in check by screwing over FL's constituents. Yeah that went really well didn't it? So well the gov don't even want to mention it again. Maybe next time he will do his very hinged homework first. And if FL's youngins want to talk about sex should they go to matt G first?

    8. BeeZee New Member

      Children, this is an article about Indonesia. Not your cartoonishly simplistic and sensationalist notions of politics in Florida. Plus it's the weekend. Chill

    9. LK Guest

      Florida is banning books in libraries and schools. (Will the blogger's kid be able to say his parents are 2 dads when in school?). Not exactly 'freedom of speech'. And their politicians whine about the Federal government while taking as much money from it as they can (Eg the Gov, who wanted federal funds for post- hurricanes, and Senator Scott, who avoided jail after his company stole millions in medicare funds). Will they continue to...

      Florida is banning books in libraries and schools. (Will the blogger's kid be able to say his parents are 2 dads when in school?). Not exactly 'freedom of speech'. And their politicians whine about the Federal government while taking as much money from it as they can (Eg the Gov, who wanted federal funds for post- hurricanes, and Senator Scott, who avoided jail after his company stole millions in medicare funds). Will they continue to build in areas predicted to be most affected by climate change and ask the rest of the country to foot the bills when they have disasters?

    10. Liz Guest

      please. get off your liberal California soapbox. its so great living here in la after all right? homelessness, covid restrictions, and endless taxes are the actual DREAM.

    11. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      @ Liz,
      remind us which major city (especially temporate ones) don't have homeless again? And what covid restrictions do you think are in place; or have been for like, dunno, two years? Or is it that you're just too ignorant to know that taxes on those making less than $120K in the city are actually down relative to what they were a decade ago?

      Seems you don't really know much about the place you lament-- or really, anything....

    12. 305 Guest

      Enough with this gaslighting nonsense. If FL was truly as bad as you folks make it out to be, I doubt Lucky (or I) would be living in this great state.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Ray Guest

They’re giving Florida ideas…

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Bob Guest

Unhinged left... Yes you're right. All those jan 6th rioters were actually fine folks from Berkeley ca and claiming anything you lose as a steal even if you can't provide a lick of proof is very left. That's so hinged. Oh and keeping Disney in check by screwing over FL's constituents. Yeah that went really well didn't it? So well the gov don't even want to mention it again. Maybe next time he will do his very hinged homework first. And if FL's youngins want to talk about sex should they go to matt G first?

6
Icarus Guest

What republicans want - their own version of sharia law.

5
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