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Indonesia’s criminal code ‘may ban sex outside marriage’

September 23, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

On Friday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its travel advice for Indonesia (including Bali) to include new information about possible future changes to Indonesia’s Criminal Code which would prohibit sex outside of marriage and would apply to tourists as well as residents.

DFAT has advised, however, that any changes won’t take force until two years after new legislation is passed.

DFAT hasn’t changed its level of advice – “exercise a high degree of caution” in Indonesia, including Bali. Higher levels apply in Poso Regency in Central Sulawesi, and Papua Province.

 Revised Criminal Code 

DFAT advises:

“The Indonesian parliament is in the process of passing a revised Criminal Code. The Code will not enter into force until two years after it has been passed. A large number of laws may change and these will also apply to foreign residents and visitors, including tourists.

Among others, these may prohibit:

  • adultery or sex outside of marriage, encompassing all same-sex sexual relations, with charges only proceeding following a complaint by a spouse, child or parent;
  • cohabitation outside of marriage, with charges only proceeding following a complaint by a spouse, child or parent;
  • ‘indecent acts’ carried out in public, by force or published;
  • insulting the President, Vice President, religion, state institutions and symbols (such as, the flag, and national anthem);
  • subverting the national ideology Pancasila.”

Pancasila, for the record, is Indonesia’s official political ideology. It consists of five principles: monotheism; justice and civilisation; unified Indonesia; representative democracy; and social justice for all.

Indonesian law does not recognise same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Article 1 of Indonesia’s Law No. 1 of the Year 1974 on Marriage states unequivocally that marriage is “a physical and spiritual bond between a man and a woman as husband and wife, having the purpose of establishing a happy and lasting family founded on the Belief in God Almighty”.

The proposed revision to Indonesia’s criminal code will retain the death penalty, which applies for many crimes in Indonesia.

DFAT reminds travellers that penalties for drug offences are severe in Indonesia and include the death penalty.

“Penalties for possessing even small amounts of ‘soft’ drugs, such as marijuana, include heavy fines and imprisonment. Police target illegal drug use and possession across Indonesia, particularly in popular places and venues in Bali and Jakarta.

Bali rice terraces

“Magic mushrooms are highly illegal. Indonesia police work to prevent their distribution.

Some prescription medications available in Australia are illegal in Indonesia.”

DFAT adds: “We continue to receive information indicating terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia. Attacks could occur anywhere, anytime. Indonesian authorities continue to arrest terrorists in the advanced stages of attack planning. Be particularly vigilant at places of worship and during significant holidays or dates of significance.

“There has been increased tension in Jayapura (and parts of Papua Province) due to recent protests.

“Be conscious of your personal security. Be aware of risks, particularly in tourist locations such as Bali and Lombok, relating to violent and petty crime; sexual assault; drink-spiking and consumption of alcohol contaminated with harmful substances such as methanol; scams and credit card/ATM fraud.

“Carefully consider risks involved in using motorcycles, including licence and insurance issues.”

For further advice:

Edited by Peter Needham

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