Indonesia’s parliament has passed a revision to the criminal code that will ban pre-marital sex. The legal changes will need to be followed by any foreigners visiting the country, potentially spelling trouble for the many amorous Aussie’s who make the overseas trip every year.
For many Australians, a trip to the tiny Indonesian island of Bali is an annual occurrence, a rite of passage and a cheap way to let loose overseas. Aussie’s have a long history of tourism in Indonesia, with almost 1.4 million Australian’s visiting the nation every year, many of which flock to Bali. The island has a reputation as a haven for relaxation and escapism, offering tourists the opportunity to experience a more libertine lifestyle. But strict new laws could be problematic for Aussie tourists, with the lifestyle that the island paradise begets suddenly under threat.
The ‘bonk ban’ as it is being called, is just one amongst many legal changes hitting Indonesia. This week, Indonesia’s parliament approved a number of amendments to the criminal code, including banning the promotion of contraception, prohibiting citizens from insulting government officials and state institutions, and even stretching as far as outlawing black magic.
Critics say the worrying legal changes undermine civil liberties and human rights. Under the new laws, sex outside of marriage will be punishable by up to one year of jail-time. Unmarried couples living together could also be jailed for up to six months. Surely that’s enough to deter horny tourists looking to get lucky on the streets of Kuta.
Bali is one of the few Hindu majority areas of the mostly Muslim Indonesia. The island has a population of just over four million and depends on tourism as its primary industry. Bali has struggled economically since Covid essentially eliminated its main money maker. Giving prospective holiday makers another reason to avoid a trip could be disastrous.
What if you’ve already booked a trip to Indonesia? You’re not alone, thousands of Aussies are expected to have already planned their annual exodus to Bali and there is some relief. The new laws won’t come into effect for three years. Meaning that the summer boys’ trip or romantic getaway with your partner is still on. So don’t go cancelling your flights just yet.
Once the laws are in place, it’s not entirely clear how they will be enforced. Police will only be able to investigate offences if they are reported by a family member. Unless your overbearing parents dob you in, it’s unlikely that lusty Australian tourists will be in trouble. But it’s probably unwise to adopt a ‘try and stop me’ approach to holiday love making. It also wouldn’t be a great idea to test the limits of the laws by pranking your mates with false police reports.
Andreas Harsono, a researcher at Human Rights Watch warned Aussie tourists to be cautious about who they sleep with while on vacation. He explained that a tourist getting it on with another tourist might not be a big deal, but having relations with a local could land you in hot water. “Let’s say an Australian tourist has a boyfriend or a girlfriend who is a local, then the local’s parents or the local’s brother or sister reported the tourist to the police. It will be a problem.” Harsono told the ABC.
For those who see a holiday in Bali as the perfect opportunity to get their socks off, you might need to rein it in (thongs are far more common anyway). The new laws won’t see you jailed for promiscuous bedroom activities for the next three years, but they could ultimately represent the end of Australia’s favourite holiday destination