On Tuesday, Indonesia’s parliament approved a new penal code banning sex outside marriage, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.
The new code, approved with the support of all political parties, also prohibits cohabitation between unmarried couples.
The code will apply to Indonesians and foreigners alike and comes despite concerns that the laws could keep tourists away and hurt investments.
It will not come into force for three years to allow for regulations to be drafted.
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The country already bans adultery but hasn’t done the same for premarital sex.
Maulana Yusran, deputy head of Indonesia’s tourism industry council, said the new code was “totally counterproductive” at a time when the country’s economy and tourism were starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We deeply regret that the government has turned a blind eye. We have already expressed our concern to the tourism ministry about how harmful this law is,” he said.
US Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim said at an investment summit that the new code could lead to less foreign investment, tourism and travel in the country.
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“Criminalizing individuals’ personal decisions would be very prominent within the decision matrix of many companies determining whether to invest in Indonesia,” Kim said.
The code is part of several new laws that critics say impose on civil liberties, along with bans on black magic, insulting the president or state institutions, spreading opinions contrary to state ideology, and staging protests without notification.
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Indonesia’s Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly responded to criticism of the new law by telling parliament, “It is not easy for a multicultural and multiethnic country to create a penal code that can satisfy all interests.”
Reuters contributed to this report.