Thailand

What next for Bali as Indonesia bans sex?

In a Draconian overhaul of the country’s criminal code, Indonesia criminalized sex outside marriage. The reforms include a ban on cohabitation between unmarried couples and would apply to both Indonesians and tourists.

This angered rights activists and prompted protests in Jakarta. However, the reactions in Bali range from scepticism to concern.

Santi Aprilia, an Indonesian housewife, told the Guardian…

“These rules were proposed a few years ago, and it didn’t happen … so I don’t know if the government will really implement this.

“Indonesia needs tourists to come, but what if foreigners that aren’t married want to come here? I think it’ll be hard to implement this kind of rule.”

Surf teacher Tony was similarly sceptical…

“I don’t think it’s going to happen because in Indonesia there’s not only Muslims but all religions.”

While Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country, Bali is Hindu with more than 300,000 tourists a month visiting

Putu Slamet is a local driver who feels tourism could be affected, deterring young couples from overseas…

“If they come here and can’t have sex, they’ll think again about coming to Bali.”

As for the island’s expat community, similar conversations are going on.

Bali's beaches severely swamped by garbage during monsoon season - Culture
There is raw beauty all over and around Bali. The island boasts a myriad of impressive volcanoes, crystalline beaches, world-class diving, a diverse nightlife, iconic rice fields, and gorgeous waterfalls.

Travel blogger, Christina Jerger, says…

“I feel a bit sorry for Bali because it’s stepping back in time. I would not say it does not affect me at all, I’m still thinking about it.”

For young couples whose parents could report them, it’s a sobering reality. An Australian resident living with his Indonesian girlfriend who asked to remain anonymous “because of the law,” says he is “a bit nervous.”

“Obviously there are so many great things to living in Bali … but stuff like that hanging over your head is a little nerve-racking. Probably because of my girlfriend and friends, it seems more of a concern for Indonesians.”

 

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career, Jon is now semi-retired, living in a quiet village in Krabi province, Thailand. He continues to write and is an avid traveler and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.