Officials in Indonesia are attempting to allay fears that a new legislation prohibiting extramarital sex may spoil the vacations of international visitors in Bali.
Indonesians caught engaging in extramarital sex might be sentenced to up to a year in prison, according to legislation enacted last week by the nation’s legislature.
The new criminal code, which must yet be ratified by President Joko Widodo and will not go into effect for three years, stipulates that cohabitation by unmarried couples is punishable by six months in prison.
Even if it happens, “Bali remains Bali as usual, which is safe and comfortable to come,” Governor I Wayan Koster said in a statement. As tourist numbers are expected to climb through March, he disputed that the criminal code had caused cancellations.
Indonesia has enacted a contentious criminal code that, according to human rights campaigners and civil society organizations, has the potential to return the world’s third-largest democracy to authoritarian control.
Articles deemed problematic include restrictions on criticizing the president, vice president, and state institutions, opinions that violate the state ideology Pancasila, unpermitted protests, sex outside of marriage, and cohabitation outside of marriage.
“Indonesia is headed in a new direction of authoritarianism. Under President Joko Widodo, a sequence of failures led to the disintegration of democracy itself,” according to Muhamad Isnur, head of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).
Recent demonstrations by civic organizations outside the House of Representatives did not prevent the measure from being overwhelmingly approved into law on Tuesday, despite the Islamic-leaning Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Democratic Party expressing reservations regarding several clauses.