Douglas Magaletti – On Tuesday, in a unanimous vote, the Indonesian Parliament made sex outside of marriage illegal.
The ban, which is part of a larger overhaul of the country's criminal code would make extramarital sex punishable by a year in jail. Couples who are not married but live together could be jailed for six months or fined 10 million rupiah ($956).
The penalties will apply to everyone in Indonesia, including tourists. In order to make an arrest the police must get a complaint from a close family member.
A significant blow to hard-won progress
According to Amnesty International's Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid, "What we're witnessing is a significant blow to Indonesia's hard-won progress in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms over more than two decades."
Hamid continued, "Outlawing sex outside marriage is a violation to the right to privacy protected under international law. Consensual sexual relationships should not be treated as a criminal offence or a violation of 'morality'."
LGBTQI tourists and Indonesians at risk
In an article in the New York Times, Tim Lindsey, director of the Center for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, said, "It is a very significant encroachment on rights and liberties in Indonesia."
He says it is unlikely foreigners will be prosecuted, however, "gay and lesbian Indonesians, who, of course, are couples and they can't be married, they are completely exposed."
Talking with SBS about the effect the law will have on tourism, Deputy chief of the Indonesian tourism industry board Maulana Yusran, said the new law was "totally counter-productive."
Yusran explained, "Hotels or any accommodation facilities are like second homes for tourists. With the ratification of this criminal code, hotels are now problematic places."
Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson tweeted, "Passage of #Indonesia's rights abusing criminal code that outlaws sex out of wedlock will blow up #Bali's tourism industry is what I'm hearing at the resort where I'm staying for a just completed conference. Why is [President Joko Widodo] & his government trying to ruin the country's tourism?"
According to the Indonesia Institute, over 1.23 million Australians visited the Indonesian province of Bali in 2019.
Other changes that were made to the criminal code as part of this overhaul include a ban on staging protests without approval, bans on black magic, and a ban on insulting the president or state institutions.
The changes will come into effect in three years in order for implementing regulations to be drafted.