Indonesia bans sex outside marriage, including in Bali, as Aussie tourists react 

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Horrified Australian tourists have become furious over Indonesia’s new ban on sex outside marriage.

On Tuesday, Indonesia’s parliament voted unanimously to approve the ban, which will affect both citizens and foreign visitors.

Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Aussies, with over a million visits in a typical year.

However, having sex outside of marriage can now result in visiting Aussies being slapped with a one-year prison sentence – while unmarried couples living together face six months in prison.

Aussie tourists reacted to the ban, describing it as ‘terrifying’.

Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Aussies, with over a million visits in a typical year

Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Aussies, with over a million visits in a typical year

One tourist told Today, “That’s terrifying. I don’t want to spend twelve months in an Indonesian prison because I slept with someone I don’t know.’

Another said, “I always come to Bali, but if it affects me and my partner, of course we can’t.”

The ban is part of a revision of the country’s penal code that has been underway for years.

The new code also expands an existing blasphemy law and retains a five-year prison sentence for deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia’s six recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

The code has yet to be approved by the president, and the government says it won’t be fully implemented for years to come.

The allegations of adultery must be based on police reports filed by a spouse, parents or children.

Citizens can also face a 10-year prison sentence for associating with organizations that follow Marxist-Leninist ideology and a four-year prison sentence for spreading communism.

Rights groups criticized some of the revisions as too broad or vague and warned that adding them to the code could penalize normal activities and threaten free speech and privacy rights.

However, some advocates hailed the passage as a victory for the country’s LGBTQ community. After much deliberation, lawmakers finally agreed to remove an article proposed by Islamist groups that would have made gay sex illegal.

The revised code also maintains the death penalty, despite calls from the National Commission on Human Rights and other groups to abolish the death penalty. But the new law adds 10 years’ probation to the death penalty.

If the convict behaves well during this period, his sentence will be reduced to life imprisonment or 20 years imprisonment.

One tourist told Today, “That’s terrifying. I don’t want to spend 12 months in an Indonesian prison because I slept with someone I don’t know’

The ban is part of a revision of the country's penal code that has been underway for years as Australians weighed whether they could continue to visit the country

The ban is part of a revision of the country's penal code that has been underway for years as Australians weighed whether they could continue to visit the country

The ban is part of a revision of the country’s penal code that has been underway for years as Australians weighed whether they could continue to visit the country

The code maintains a previous ban on abortion, but updates it to add exceptions already provided for in a 2004 medical practice law, for women with life-threatening medical conditions and for rape, provided the fetus is less than 12 weeks old.

Under Indonesian regulations, legislation passed by parliament becomes law upon signature by the president. But even without the president’s signature, it automatically takes effect after 30 days, unless the president issues an ordinance to cancel it.

President Joko Widodo is widely expected to sign the revised code in light of the extensive approval process in parliament. But the law is likely to come into effect gradually over a period of up to three years, according to Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights Edward Hiariej.

‘Many implementation regulations have to be worked out, so that cannot be done in one year,’ he said.

The code reinstates a ban on insulting a sitting president or vice president, state institutions, and national ideology. Insults to a sitting president must be reported by the president and can result in up to three years in prison.

Hiariej said the government has issued “the strongest possible statement that distinguishes between insults and criticism.”

The current criminal code is a legacy of the Dutch colonial administration. Updates have stalled for decades as lawmakers in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation debated how to adapt the code to traditional cultures and norms. Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945.

The new laws also apply to foreign residents and millions of tourists who visit the island each year (pictured visitors enjoying Bali's Seminyak beach

The new laws also apply to foreign residents and millions of tourists who visit the island each year (pictured visitors enjoying Bali's Seminyak beach

Not only will sex outside of marriage be banned, but living with your partner before getting married will also be banned, according to the new penal code that will be passed on Dec. 15.

An earlier revised code was due to pass in 2019, but President Widodo urged lawmakers to postpone a vote amid mounting public criticism that led to nationwide protests involving tens of thousands of people.

Opponents said it contained articles that discriminated against minorities and that the legislative process lacked transparency. Widodo instructed Law and Human Rights Secretary Yasonna Laoly to get input from various groups as lawmakers debated the articles.

A parliamentary task force finalized the bill in November and lawmakers unanimously approved it Tuesday, in what Laoly hailed as a “historic step.”

“It turns out that it is not easy for us to break free from the colonial living legacy, even if this country does not want to use colonial products anymore,” Laoly said at a news conference.

“Completing this process shows that even 76 years after the Dutch Penal Code was adopted as Indonesia’s Penal Code, it is never too late to produce laws on your own,” Laoly said. “The Penal Code is a reflection of a nation’s civilization.”

Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that laws punishing criticism of public leaders violate international law, and that the fact that some forms of speech are considered offensive is not enough to warrant restrictions or penalties.

“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they are widely applied, but that they provide opportunities for selective enforcement,” said Andreas Harsono, a senior Indonesia researcher with the group.

Many hotels, including in tourist areas such as Bali and Jakarta, are at risk of losing visitors, he added.

“These laws let the police extort bribes, for example let officials imprison political enemies with the blasphemy law,” Harsono said.