New Laws – Tourists will not be affected by having relationships outside of marriage
After more than fifty years of efforts to update the penal code (RKUHP) that Indonesia inherited from the Dutch when it gained independence in 1949, the Indonesian parliament finally approved a new version. This change marks a significant break with the colonial past and the Indonesian way of life.
But the revised code, which could take up to three years before it is fully adopted, introduces several controversial statutes, both at home and abroad.
The criminalization of extramarital sex and cohabitation immediately attracted international media attention.
Under the amended code, having sex with someone other than your spouse is punishable by up to one year in prison, while living with someone other than your spouse is punishable by six months in prison.
THE TOURIST SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT BEING IMPRISONED FOR OUTSIDE MARRIAGE INTERCOURSE OR COHABITATION WITH THE PERSON THEY ARE NOT MARRIED WHILE IN INDONESIA.
Because, as always, the devil is in the details. Something that, sadly, irresponsible and clickbait-driven media outlets around the world choose to ignore.
For starters, the revised penal code may take another three years after approval, before it enters into force.
Second, only family members (parents, children and spouses) are in a position to report such a “crime”, and the act must have a negative impact on them.
If you put this in the context of a tourist visiting Bali, even if this law remains unchanged, none of this is likely to happen. Not impossible, but extremely unlikely.
nothing is final yet
We anticipate that the penal code revision will take two, if not three, years to implement, and that it will face numerous legal challenges until then. Regarding the “sex outside of marriage” law, there will almost certainly be discussions between the government, tourism stakeholders and Indonesian citizens about how they will respond to the law. Indonesia still has time to calibrate. And once again, no one, not even unmarried couples, should fear being jailed in Bali.
Indonesia is evolving and growing at a rapid pace, and the country will have to decide how it wants to shape its future in the context of a relatively young democracy. A country with 17,000 islands, 1,300 ethnic groups and 700 languages will inevitably face challenges. Manado is not Bali, nor is Jakarta Aceh.