Foreigners visiting Bali will not be affected by Indonesia’s new law against extramarital sex, officials said.
The legislation, which was passed by the country’s parliament last week, punishes offenders with up to a year in prison. Those who cohabitate outside marriage may receive six months.
The law was previously reported to affect both citizens and foreigners. However, Bali — the country’s top tourist destination — will remain the way it is, according to its governor.
“Bali is (business) as usual — comfortable and safe to visit,” Gov. Wayan Koster said, as per CNN. “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.”
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Bali, however, is predominantly Hindu, according to Al Jazeera.
Koster’s assurance follows an earlier clarification from Indonesia’s justice ministry, which stressed that foreigners “did not have to worry” about persecution. According to the governor, there will be “no checks on marital statuses at tourist accommodations like hotels, villas, guest houses or spas, or inspections by public officials or community groups.”
The new code, however, also includes provisions against insulting the president and state institutions. Civil rights groups have been airing concerns on possible misinterpretations of such provisions.
“There are least [sic] 88 articles containing broad provisions that could be misused and misinterpreted by both authorities and the public to criminalize those who peacefully express their opinions or exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and association,” Nurina Savitri, a campaign manager at Amnesty International Indonesia, told The Guardian. Among them is a provision that criminalizes “unsanctioned public demonstrations,” which could be used to ban peaceful assembly, she said.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry has reportedly summoned a United Nations official amid such concerns. However, a spokesperson said the organization should have consulted the government before expressing its misgivings.
“They should have come to consult, just like other international representatives. We hope they do not hasten to express views, or when there’s not enough information,” said Teuku Faizasyah, according to the South China Morning Post.
The new law still needs the seal of President Joko Widodo and will not come into effect for three years.