Indonesian parliament approves legislation to outlaw extra-marital sex
JAKARTA: Indonesia's parliament approved a new criminal code on Tuesday (Dec 6) that bans sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, despite worries the laws may scare away tourists from its tropical shores and harm investment.
The new code, which will apply to Indonesians and foreigners alike, also prohibits cohabitation between unmarried couples. It was passed with support from all political parties.
However, the code will not come into effect for three years to allow for implementing regulations to be drafted.
Currently, Indonesia bans adultery but not premarital sex.
Maulana Yusran, deputy chief of Indonesia's tourism industry board, said the new code was "totally counter-productive" at a time when the economy and tourism were starting to recover from the pandemic.
"We deeply regret the government have closed their eyes. We have already expressed our concern to the ministry of tourism about how harmful this law is," he said.
Foreign arrivals in the holiday destination of Bali are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of six million by 2025, the tourism association has said previously, as the island recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
Indonesia is also trying to attract more so-called "digital nomads" to its tropical shores by offering a more flexible visa.
Speaking at an investment summit, US Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim said the news could result in less foreign investment, tourism and travel to the Southeast Asian nation.
"Criminalising the personal decisions of individuals would loom large within the decision matrix of many companies determining whether to invest in Indonesia," he said.
Albert Aries, a spokesperson for Indonesia's justice ministry, said the new laws regulating morality were limited by who could report them, such as a parent, spouse or child of suspected offenders.
"The aim is to protect the institution of marriage and Indonesian values, while at the same time being able to protect the privacy of the community and also negate the rights of the public or other third parties to report this matter or 'playing judge' on behalf of morality," he said.These laws are part of a raft of legal changes that critics say undermine civil liberties in the world's third-largest democracy. Other laws include bans on black magic, insulting the president or state institutions, spreading views counter to state ideology, and staging protests without notification.