About a week ago, the Indonesian government set the world on its ear when the country’s parliament announced plans to ban sex outside of marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail. The laws will apply not just to residents but also to foreign expats and tourists in the country. The new criminal code, set to go into effect in 2025, could also see a plethora of new laws that would potentially impose upon personal freedoms that will further criminalize abortion, LGBTQI+ relationships (including public displays of affection among same-sex couples), and unmarried couples living together.
The tourism world responded quickly and completely – Indonesia’s most popular city for tourists, Bali, which was finally getting back on its feet after the pandemic, was now a metaphoric Public Enemy #1 for any unmarried couples of the opposite sex.
Response from within the country was equally as negative.
“From our point of view as tourism industry players, this law will be very counterproductive for the tourism industry in Bali — particularly the chapters about sex and marriage,” said Putu Winastra, chairman of the country’s largest tourism group, the Association of The Indonesian Tours And Travel Agencies (ASITA).
Indonesian lawmakers apparently got the hint that such a law might not be good for tourism. So they’ve now stepped back and have confirmed that the new sex law, when it takes effect, won’t affect tourists who visit Bali.
“Based on the provisions of the new Indonesian criminal code, visitors who visit or live in Bali would not need to worry,” said Balinese governor Wayan Koster on Monday. He also that there would be “no checks on marital statuses at tourist accommodations like hotels, villas, guest houses or spas, or inspections by public officials or community groups.
“Bali is (business) as usual — comfortable and safe to visit,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors with our Balinese hospitality and advise all parties not to deliver misleading statements regarding the Indonesian criminal code that might disrupt Bali tourism.”
Of course, that’s fine for tourists who happen to be straight. But tourists who identify as LGBTQI+ still won’t have the same freedoms as their straight brethren, regardless of which part of Indonesia they visit, because same sex relationships, and everything else under the LGBTQI+ umbrella is already illegal in Indonesia. To say nothing of Indonesians who will have to live under the new rules once they go into effect.
That’s pretty sad.
Y’know, I never had much interest in going to Indonesia. Under those circumstances, I still don’t. As the good blog says, Your Mileage May Vary.
Feature Photo: RawPixel
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