Bali Tourists Could Face One Year In Prison For Having Sex Under New Law

Indonesia is expected to approve a law this month banning pre-marital sex as well as living together prior to marriage. While Bali is generally more liberal than the rest of the country, the law would apply nationwide, including for tourists.

And while homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia per se (except in the Aceh province) same sex marriage is not legal. As a result same sex partners living together would become criminalized, under a statute that includes penalties of up to a year in prison. Insulting Indonesia’s president would also become illegal.

A previous attempt to enshrine the strict new morality laws failed after widespread protests in the country of 280 million people.

…The proposals could be signed into law by President Joko Widodo by mid-December…Its implementation was then delayed while the government consulted further and made changes to the bill.

The entire point of a Bali trip for many is ‘vacation sex’. That said, most people won’t be prosecuted, since reports to the government of violations are permitted can only be made “by a limited number of parties, such as close relatives.” However that offers significant leverage to those relatives.

(HT: Drew J)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If your relatives would use that for “leverage” against you then you need new relatives.

    Just read a nice article in the Guardian explaining how this Indonesian conservatism is from decades of Saudi Arabian influence and their effort towards spreading Wahabbism throughout the Muslim world…..

  2. Joko Widodo? Is that a real name? That sounds made up. LOL!!

    What people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their business, as long as it’s consensual and doesn’t involve children.

  3. I love Bali. This is not going to help them maintain a thriving tourism business with the sophisticated tourists they want. I’m frankly surprised that the Indonesian government is sticking its nose into people’s bedrooms as no good can come of that. Such moves simply make the country look backward and intolerant.

  4. Just came back from Bali, and I believe this is great! Stop sex tourism. They need to do this all over Asia.

  5. @ Gary — Hopefully this new law drives off enough tourism to significantly reduce hotel and airfare prices.

  6. This criminalization effort also applies to extra-marital co-habitation, so it’s not just limited to a criminalization effort aimed at extra-marital sex.

    But — and this seems to be a key point not recognized — the criminalization effort seems structured to only allow for a prosecution if a close relative of the “adulterer” advances the case against their own relative in an “adulterous relationship”.

    So if the married VFTW readers go for an extra-marital bunga-bunga party in private in Bali, the worry should be if the relatives report the affair to the Indonesian authorities. A single, childless orphan fornicating with local or imported prostitutes would not be subject to this criminalization of extramarital relations.

    Foreign businessmen in Indonesia are freaking out about this as it’s not all that rare for them to have a local family — a “little wife” — while the “big wife” is back in the country of origin with child-related family obligations.

  7. Let’s hope they are as much hypocrites as republicans/religious right wingers in the US and it is just to make an impression.

    @SMR – if you live in the US and republicans/religious right wingers have it their way (continue to rig elections) you might soon be looking for another country to live.

  8. @Gregg – Prostitution is already illegal in Bali so the only people potentially running afoul of the new law would be gay or unmarried people.

  9. @davidmiller

    Sure, it can get even better for you if they also ban blacks, latinos, and to make it perfect, asians too…

    Just make an exception for one inter-racial marriage couple so clarence and ginny can continue to visit.

  10. Sounds like the only people potentially running afoul of the new law in Indonesia would be people whose own relatives complain to the Indonesian authorities about extra-marital relations/co-habitation. If a homosexual or unmarried person’s relatives don’t mind the extra-martial relations, then it’s the same situation as it was and would be even without the new law.

    Indonesia has too many kids who are born of foreign fathers who become deadbeat fathers who bail out on supporting their Indonesian children; and when the father disappears or absconds abroad, good luck trying to get the deadbeat foreign father to submit to a paternity test to acknowledge/affirm parenthood and to pay up financially. Part of the hope of such law is that some of those “dads” can be grabbed on arrival during visits/stays in Indonesia, as it’s not unusual for deadbeat dads and crooks to return to the “scene of the crime”.

  11. “SMR” good riddance to you. One less tourist I gave to deal with when I go to Bali. It’s their country, they’re rules. If you don’t like it don’t go there. So simple.

  12. Free people of the world are free to criticize the rules of foreign countries too. And better than just not going is to criticize the disliked rules and disliked values wherever those may be.

    Indonesia’s a democratic republic, and its people require allies near and far to counter the near and far “conservative” authoritarian trends which jeopardize liberal democratic progress near and far.

  13. Every country has its zealots, who seem particularly preoccupied with sex (other peoples).
    Maybe they are in the ascendancy in Indonesia right now.
    It is my understanding that their current President has pro-Western leanings, and would realise that passing such laws would be a setback to international relations.

  14. Key point:

    “According to the new laws, parents of single people who engage in sex may report their own children, while complaints of adultery may only be filed by a husband or a wife.”

    Parents aren’t all that likely to report their single children for prosecution and time locked up in jail/prison overseas, although it could certainly be a way for a parent to try to end a child’s relationship or perhaps even extort the child over financial (including inheritance) matters.

    Jilted or otherwise angry spouses may be a threat to philandering husbands/wives in Indonesia, but who really wants to stand up legislatively for “cheaters” anywhere?

  15. Well, this is quite a shame. We will be renewing our wedding vows next year and have already booked hotels, however, we’re now reconsidering travel to Bali altogether because we have unmarried couples in our wedding party and would hate to put anyone at risk.

  16. Countries like these should be wiped from the map with Nuclear weapons…zero tolerance for their backwards idiocies……they just put the nail in their county’s ⚰️ as far as I’m concerned….

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