Indonesia rows back on ‘cohabitating’ law
Minister insists tourists ‘exempt’ from changes.
Unmarried couples planning a trip to Bali have been reassured they will not face prison for cohabitating, with an Indonesian Government Minister clarifying potential changes in the law.
Changes planned for the country’s legislature appeared to indicate that unmarried couples would be breaking the law if they had sex outside of marriage when visiting islands like Bali, with a potential one-year jail sentence if convicted.
The Indonesian tourist industry feared that the changes would have seriously detrimental effect their industry – around 500,000 foreign visitors were arriving in Bali each month before the pandemic – with Government ministers now attempting to row back on the threat to tourists.
Indonesia’s Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said: “I want to emphasise for foreign tourists, please come to Indonesia because you will not be charged with this article.”
Sleeping arrangementes will be ignored
While not fully explaining how they would be exempt from a law which is likely to come into force in the next few years, it would indicate that the sleeping arrangements of foreign visitors would effectively be ignored. Offenders would only be prosecuted if reported by a spouse, parent or child, which would make it highly unlikely overseas tourists would be affected.
When Covid-19 hit, the tourism industry in Bali saw arrivals slump to just 45 for the entire year of 2021, with a revival forecast in forthcoming years that would contribute $118biillion to the country’s GDP while creating more than 500,000 jobs each year for the next decade, which may explain the intervention of the Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister.