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Hotels Won’t Ask Tourists For Marriage Certs — & Other Things To Know About Indonesia’s New Law That Bans Sex Outside Marriage

No need to cancel your Bali vacation — or get married in a rush — just yet.

Indonesia’s new law that criminalises sex outside of marriage has caused quite a stir since it was announced last week. Under this new law, sex outside of marriage is banned and offenders can face up to one year in jail, and cohabitation among unmarried couples is punishable by up to six months in prison.

The law will apply to the whole of Indonesia, including tourist hotspot Bali. Tourism businesses are concerned that the new law will scare off tourists, just as the Island of Gods is getting back on its feet post-pandemic.

But fret not, you don’t have to cancel your couple holiday to Bali — or elsewhere in Indonesia — just yet. Here’s why.

#1: The law will only come into effect in three years.

There will be a three-year transition period before the law is actually enforced. While parliament passed the bill last week, Indonesian president Joko Widodo still has to sign it off, and lawmakers will be ironing out the regulations as well.

#2: The new law will not affect tourists, according to Indonesian authorities.

Indonesia's Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej has told reporters: “I want to emphasise for foreign tourists, please come to Indonesia because you will not be charged with this article.”

Under the law, offenders can only be charged if a parent, spouse or child reports them to the authorities, so the law is unlikely to affect tourists. Well, unless you’re a married person holidaying with family in Indonesia and decide to hook up with someone else on vacay, then that’s a whole new can of worms.

However, some folks have highlighted other possible scenarios in which tourists could be ensnared by the new law. Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “Let’s say an Australian tourist has a boyfriend or girlfriend who’s a local. Then the local parents or brother or sister reported the tourist to the police. It will be a problem.”

#3: Hotels will not be asking for proof of marriage.

Since the announcement, social media has been rife with rumours that couples will not be allowed to share a hotel room unless they present a marriage certificate, while others were worried that there may be hotel room raids. All this is false.

Bali governor Wayan Koster has assured that “there will be no checking on marital status upon check-in at any tourism accommodation... nor inspections by public officials or community groups”.

“All tourists should feel safe and comfortable while enjoying their vacation in Bali,” he said.

Photo: Unsplash/Kharl Anthony Paica

Related topics

Indonesia Bali Tourism travel sex ban law

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