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RI Adultery Law at Odds with Tourism

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As reported by, a draft criminal law (RUU KUHP) regarding adultery threatening criminal prosecution to unmarried couples checking into Indonesian hotels is being hotly debated and attracting protests from business circles.

The draft law (section 415) threatens every person who engages in extra-marital sex with a maximum prison term of one year or a fine. An important sub-section of the draft law states that criminal charges for adultery can only be pursued and prosecuted if a family member makes a police complaint (e.g., husband, wife, parent, or child of the accused).

Knock-Knock Can we See Your Marriage License?

Section 416 also states that anyone living as man and wife outside a formal marriage can be prosecuted and punished with a maximum prison term of 6 months in response to a criminal complaint filed by a family member of either of the errant parties.

Those opposed to the new law against extra-marital cohabitation are worried that if the law against cohabitation is promulgated, foreigners seeking to visit Indonesia will be dissuaded and change their travel plans to other countries in the regions, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, or Vietnam.

The Draft law is scheduled to be finalized in December 2022 as part of the National Legislative Program for 2022.

The chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (APINDO), Hariyadi Sukamdani, describes the draft law as being at the center of a continuing polemic that threatens business operations. APINDO is currently appealing to the Indonesian Parliament to hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed legislation.

Of particular concern to business critics of the law is the fear that foreign tourist visitors to Indonesia could also be subjected to the law. Common law marital partnerships in which couples live together without formal legal documentation are widely accepted in many countries around the world. The new law would place many tourist visitors in jeopardy of criminal persecution if they chose to holiday in Indonesia.

To cite just one example. Indonesia’s near-neighbor of Australia has high rates of common law or de facto “marriages.” It is estimated that 81.83% of Australians cohabitate before entering into a formal marriage contract. Questions are raised if defacto partners taking a holiday in Indonesia would be liable to arrest or even if honeymooners planning a wedding in Bali would be breaking the law if they shared accommodation prior to the actual wedding night.

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