Officials: Unmarried couples holidaying in Indonesia are not in peril

JAKARTA, Dec 12 (dpa): Visitors holidaying in Indonesia do not need to worry about possible criminal complaints concerning sex outside marriage or cohabitation between unmarried couples as stipulated in the country's newly revised criminal code, a government official said on Monday.

The Indonesian parliament last week unanimously passed a new criminal code that includes provisions stipulating sex outside of marriage is punishable by one year in prison and couples who live together out of wedlock could face six months in prison.

The old criminal code will remain applicable until 2025.

The government is in damage control mode following media coverage about the controversial rules changes - and is trying to reassure tourists that they are not threatened by them.

"Tourists will not be charged with these provisions, as only the husband or wife, and parents or children [of the alleged offenders] can file the complaint," Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, deputy law and human rights minister, told journalists.

He added that the provisions prevent the local community and regional public order agencies from playing judge by raiding the residences of unmarried couples who live together and accusing them of adultery.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster said in a statement on Sunday that the provincial administration ensures visitors' personal data or marital status will remain confidential and that there will be no checking of their marital status upon arrival at accommodations on the resort island.

The statements comes amid concerns that the criminal code could deter travellers ahead of the Christmas and New Year holiday season on which Bali pinned its hope to revive its tourism sector hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new criminal code was decades in the making and marks a major revision from the previous code that was a legacy from the Dutch colonial era.

Rights advocates criticized the law as intrusive to citizens' private lives and undermine political and civic freedoms. - dpa

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