Just last week, Indonesia passed a rather draconian law which sees people facing potential jail time for having sex before marriage, or living together before marriage.
Rather shockingly, tourists and tourist centric areas of Indonesia, like Bali, were not spared from any potential enforcement, which is slated to come into effect from 2025. A happily vacationing couple, as the law is written, could theoretically be arrested for consummating the relationship without a ring on it.
The idea of being locked up, for going on vacation with a love interest seems pretty dystopian. Accordingly, most tourism industry stakeholders strongly opposed the new law and after its unanimous passing, attempts are now being made to quell any travel fears.
Bali’s Governor, Wayan Koster is among the first letting tourists known not to worry, saying they shouldn’t be impacted. It’s an important assurance, particularly for a law so vague and so based on hearsay, in a country which ranks 96th on the corruption index.
Bali Claims Tourists Won’t Be Impacted
There are many potentially negative impacts of Indonesia’s new “sex” law which fall outside the purview of this travel blog. Tourism impacts however, are entirely critical to understand.
Balinese Governor, Wayan Koster, has assured international media that visitors are not the focus of the laws and that those on the island of Bali should feel at ease.
“(People) who visit or live in Bali would not need to worry with regard to the entry into force of the Indonesian Criminal Code.There will be no checking on marital status upon check-in at any tourism accommodation, such as hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses, lodges and spas,”Wayan Koster, Governor of Bali
Widening Indonesian Tourism?
The timing of this new law in the world’s largest Muslim country by population is interesting, in terms of international tourism goals.
In recent years, Indonesia expressed a strong desire to bring international tourism to other areas of the stunning country, both to relieve the strain on natural resources and to increasingly share the positive economic impacts more broadly.
Bali has done incredibly well to get ahead of the messaging of this worrisome new law, and it may make a tremendous different. It’s hard to imagine international tourists will be as likely to brave other areas of the country where such protections don’t exist.
Bali has proclaimed it won’t be enforcing these laws on tourists in any way, and for now, it’s an important distinction.