Destinations

Business as usual in Bali, as tourism body hoses down panic over proposed sex ban

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

A prominent Balinese tourism organisation is urging tourists not to be concerned about a proposed ban on extramarital sex by the Indonesian government as part of planned changes to the country’s criminal code.

The changes, which have been put on hold and are due for review by the Indonesian government, include a ban on adultery, or sex outside of marriage, encompassing all same-sex relations; cohabitation outside of marriage; a ban on abortion in most cases; and insulting the president.

Locals responded to the proposed revision to the criminal code with protests in Jakarta outside the Indonesian Parliament, citing the changes as a threat to their liberties, according to SBS.

At time of writing, more than 970,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to step in and stop the bill from being passed.

After media reports of the proposed changes circulated, including Travel Weekly’s coverage, the Bali Hotels Association issued a statement urging “all parties involved in tourism” to stay calm and “continue their activities” as usual.

At a surprise address on Friday, Indonesia President Joko Widodo announced the bill’s passage would be delayed.
At a surprise address last Friday, Indonesia President Joko Widodo announced the bill’s passage would be delayed.

The association maintained the proposed changes are still just “a recommendation” and have not been formally issued and cannot be enforced.

Here is the BHA’s statement in full:

In regards to media coverage related with possible changes in the new/revised Criminal Code (KUHP) in Indonesia, Bali government office has issued a statement containing three points to be shared for immediate effects. Please find hereafter its translation:

  1. The recommendation of the full regulations, including what is commonly mentioned as the ‘Adultery Act’ is still a recommendation and has not yet formally issued and cannot be enforced.
  2. Based on various feedback, the President of The Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian Parliament have agreed to indefinitely postpone the passing of the bill with those new regulations.
  3. Bali government office encourages all parties involved in tourism (i.e. persons visiting or planning to visit, as well as industry stakeholders) to stay calm and continue their activities (or planned activities) as usual.

Bali Hotels Association is monitoring the issue and will update its members and partners if there is any further information in regards to this matter.

The Australian government updated its travel advice for Indonesia on 20 September acknowledging the proposal for changes to the criminal code, which it said would affect “foreign residents and visitors, including tourists”.
Smartraveller warned tourists could be charged if the bill passed for, among other offences, “adultery or sex outside of marriage, encompassing all same-sex relations”, with charges only proceeding following a complaint by a spouse, child or parent.It added that even if the changes to the code were passed by the Indonesian parliament, it would take two years to enforce.

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