(CTN NEWS) – JAKARTA – Authorities in Indonesia are attempting to assuage tourists’ concerns on new laws that criminalise sex that does not occur during marriage or cohabitation and restore confidence in the country’s tourism industry.
According to the Law Ministry, the country’s updated laws will stop law enforcement from conducting routine raids to stop the illicit sexual activity that the same criminal code outlaws.
According to Indonesia’s Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, the deputy minister of law and human rights, “there are criteria, there are parameters, and there are metrics for translating these articles.”
"Travelers will not be charged under this article," says Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, Indonesia's deputy minister for law and human rights re the new criminal code banning sex outside marriage https://t.co/2xGBpNvcTn
— Max Walden (@maxwalden_) December 12, 2022
“The criminal code has rules that classify these (articles) as complaints-based offences, so we also issue a warning to civil service police units that enforce local laws not to conduct sweeping raids, etc.,” he continued.
BALI PROMISES TO PROTECT TRAVELERS’ PRIVACY
One day after the bill was passed, Bali, Indonesia’s top tourist destination, promised to protect privacy in media remarks in response to travellers’ worries.
The well-known resort island emphasized that visitors would be safe and that no accommodations for travelers would inquire about their marital status.
The Bali authorities also called foreign consuls, who requested them to inform their citizens.
According to Mr. Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun, the director of the Bali Tourism Agency, “We have requested to make clear to their countrymen that there is no reason to worry about visiting Bali.” First and foremost, “This law assures who may report someone.”
Adultery is already against the law in the nation’s current laws; therefore, anyone could submit a complaint against offenders prior to the updated code.
The prohibition on sex outside of marriage will be extended to everyone, even those not married, when the new rules take effect in roughly three years.
However, only the offender’s spouse, parents, and children can contact the police.
SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS
Since the measure was approved by parliament on December 6, social media has been flooded with comments, and international media outlets have covered the new code extensively.
The laws will apply to ex-pats already living there and foreign tourists traveling to Indonesia.
On Twitter, @harrydavisonNZ tweeted, “Say farewell to your thriving tourism sector; visiting numbers are likely to drop like flies.”
@HamletBueno questioned, “Should I postpone my trip to Bali?”
@itstonz tweeted, “Here’s another reason I’d prefer not go to Bali/Indonesia,” along with a link to a New Zealand news item about the country’s new rules outlawing extramarital sex.
Premarital sex is punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of 10 million rupiahs ($640). Cohabitation can result in a fine of 10 million rupiah or a six-month prison sentence.
SOCIAL TASK FORCE OF THE GOVERNMENT
The contentious sex and cohabitation laws are just a small portion of the lengthy criminal code.
Among other measures, the updated articles will update blasphemy offenses, restrict the ability to protest and make it illegal to criticize the president.
According to the Indonesian parliament, a task group will be established to better inform the people about the new regulations.
According to Albert Aries, spokesman for the socialization team for the new criminal law, “The penal code, or criminal code, is the most faithful mirror of our civilization, so when you come to Indonesia, there are values that need to be honored.”
When drafting the measure, the authorities, according to Mr. Hiariej, were in a difficult position and tried to strike a compromise between the demands of various groups living in the nation.
In other provinces, including the predominantly Muslim West Sumatra, stronger regulations have been sought for conduct that was thought immoral and against Islamic principles.
For instance, they desired cohabitation that went beyond just complaint-based behaviour.
WORRIES IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY
Tour operators reported that they have already been contacted by various foreign travel agencies enquiring about the procedure for their clients who wish to visit Indonesia.
The new sex and cohabitation restrictions have not been made clear by the authorities, and it is unclear whether married couples will need to enter the nation with valid marriage papers.
However, the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies stated that it is still too early to determine the impact on businesses.
“There were a few cancellations, but we’re unsure if they had anything to do with the criminal code. Therefore, it is too early to assess, said Mr. Budijanto Ardiansjah, deputy chairman of the group.
"Kami tidak mungkin memberikan jaminan kepada wisatawan akan aman-aman saja. Karena ini adalah merupakan produk hukum yang diatur oleh undang-undang," kata SekjenPHRI Maulana Yusran.#KUHP #Pariwisatahttps://t.co/C8ztmXkVgX
— KBR (@beritaKBR) December 13, 2022
I’m worried that this would turn into a “poor campaign” or “bad promotion” for Indonesian tourism, he added, adding that it is important to respond to critiques constructively.
The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association’s secretary-general, Mr. Maulana Yusran, stated that:
the tourism industry “needs comfort, security, and maintaining positive storylines to prevent bad narratives from impacting visitor visits.”
Since the beginning of this year, according to official data, there has been a consistent monthly rise in the number of international visitors to Bali, as the pandemic’s effects begin to wear off.
Indonesia’s tourism minister assured worries that the nation would adhere to its 7 million targets.
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