Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, the Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister, on Monday said Indonesia’s newly revised criminal code that prohibits sex outside marriage would not apply to visitors.
Last week, the Indonesian parliament unanimously passed a new criminal code that stipulates that sex outside of marriage is punishable by one year in prison and couples who live together out of wedlock would face six months in prison.
Critics, however, said the law would damage the country’s significant tourism industry.
The minister said visitors holidaying in Indonesia would not need to worry about possible criminal complaints concerning sex outside marriage or cohabitation between unmarried couples as stipulated in the new law.
“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 complaints,” said Mr Hiariej.
The government was in damage control mode following media coverage about the controversial rules’ changes and was trying to reassure tourists that they would not threaten them.
He added that the provisions would prevent the local community, the regional public and other 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 would ensure visitors’ data or marital status would remain confidential.
Also, there would be no checking of their marital status upon arrival at accommodations on the resort island.
The new law takes effect in three years.