Unmarried tourists having sex in Bali could be sent to jail under new laws being considered by the Indonesian parliament.

Embassies for western countries are considering sending travel warnings to tourists regarding the new laws which are expected to be passed by the end of the month as a part of the country's penal reforms.

Other laws being touted in the bill before parliament include making it illegal to criticise the president, spread communist ideology and for unmarried couples to cohabit, hide the sale of contraception from public view, and criminalising of activities such as bestiality and black magic.

However the biggest concern, particularly for tourists is the 'extra marital sex provision'.
The tourist island of Bali in particular, which receives around six million tourist arrivals a year, could see the law as a fresh subject for culture clashes.


Bali and its businesses which have cultivated a more liberal and at times hedonistic appeal to western tourists could soon find itself at odds with the new laws.

Experts in Indonesian culture have said that it is unclear what the impacts of the bill will be. There are many "unenforced laws" that arise from moral codes that are not actively enforced but can create other complications for travellers, such as extortion.

Professor Tim Lindsey of Melbourne University's centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, said the impacts of the laws for visitors are not yet clear cut. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald he said: "This also exposes foreigners to extortion. It would be easy for a police officer in Bali to say you aren't married, you have to pay me. That's a quite likely scenario."

Teuku Taufiqulhad, an Indonesian MP, told Reuters reporters asking about how this would affect tourists it would be "no problem, as long as people don't know".

However, the draft versions of the extra marital sex provision suggest jail sentences of between six and twelve months.

It is still uncertain how the laws will be enforced, under what circumstances tourists will be allowed to share rooms or how those breaking the sex band will be reported.

Tourists are already having second thoughts about spending holidays on the Indonesian island.

However, from Bali in particular, there is already a move to curb problem tourism.


In response to episodes of bad behaviour around sacred sites last year, Bali's deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati told The Guardian " we are too open with tourists, so too many come, and indeed the quality of tourists is now different from before."

As the parliament reviews the 800 amendments which were proposed as a review into the country's 100-year-old penal code many worry that it could represent a move towards a far less liberal legal system.

Activists worry the "moral panic" regarding the influx of western tourists and may hurt same-sex rights, and the relatively liberal culture gay and lesbian travellers have enjoyed until now.

"At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward — not backwards — on human rights," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in response to the draft laws last year.

Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, the head of Bali's tourism board has insisted that the implications for foreign tourists will be minimal.

"We are not worried, the law requires a person to report such case. As a tourism destination we have to also observe international law," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Bali has always welcomed all tourists, we will continue to do so, even with a new penal code."

While tourists to Indonesia have long been warned against public displays of affection and revealing clothing, the official advice on the new laws so far seems to be "don't ask, don't tell."