AGAINST THE AMENDMENTS Activists hold up posters during a rally against Indonesia’s new criminal code in the city of Yogyakarta, southern Indonesia on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. AP PHOTO
SYDNEY: Australia said on Wednesday it was seeking more information on Indonesia’s move to criminalize sex outside of marriage, as the ban’s impact on tourists to the resort island of Bali and other parts of the majority-Muslim nation remained unclear.
Canberra said it was “seeking further clarity” after Jakarta approved legislation to overhaul its criminal code and outlaw sex outside of marriage on Tuesday.
“We understand these revisions will not come into force for three years, and we await further information on how the revisions will be interpreted as implementing regulations are drafted and finalized,” a Foreign Affairs spokesman said in a statement.
Indonesia, which is northwest of Australia, is a major holiday destination for those Down Under, with the largely Hindu island of Bali famous for its beaches, nightlife and pumping surf.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than a million Australians visited the island annually.
Despite the change to the laws, authorities have insisted that foreigners traveling to Bali would not be affected.
The new code must still be approved by President Joko Widodo.
Some of the most controversial articles in the new code criminalize extramarital sex and the cohabitation of unmarried couples.
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Indonesia is set to punish those who have sex before marriage with jail time of up to one year.
Deputy justice minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej told Reuters that the new criminal code, which will be applicable to the citizens and foreigners in the country, is expected to move forward on Dec. 15.
“We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he said.
Politician Bambang Wuryanto, meanwhile, said that it could be passed by next week.
“Punishment for adultery can only take effect if there are parties who lodge complaints to the authorities,” according to a report by BBC News.
“For those who are married, the party entitled to lodge a complaint is the perpetrator’s husband or wife,” the media outlet added.
Parents of unmarried individuals would be allowed to report them for having sex under the new measure, which would also ban cohabitation. If convicted for the latter, they could face imprisonment of up to six months.
Reuters said that business groups have expressed their concern over the negative impact it could bring on the country’s image.
“For the business sector, the implementation of this customary law shall create legal uncertainty and make investors reconsider investing in Indonesia,” Shinta Widjaja Sukamdani—the deputy chairperson of Indonesia’s Employers’ Association—said.
BBC reported that the code was initially slated to be passed three years ago. Tens of thousands of Indonesians, however, came together in various cities to rally against the move at the time, which reportedly caused some delays and minor changes to the law.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter