Indonesia May Ban Gay Sex (and Extramarital Sex)

Indonesia is a seen as one of the more socially tolerant Islamic nations, however they’re now considering legislation that would ban gay and extramarital sex.

Ichsan Soelistio, a member of a special commission in the Indonesian House of Representatives working to update the country’s criminal code, said the body has reached consensus to include laws outlawing extramarital sex as well as gay sex, and is likely to do so soon but with some limitations.

While the party in power, the Democratic Party of Struggle, is generally seen as more socially liberal (and secular) than those calling for a ban they also see ‘compromise’ legislation as the best avenue to averting even a stronger crackdown.

A common destination for frequent flyers because it’s accessible, in parts beautiful and in some ways exotic, and inexpensive to visit. I wonder how this will affect tourism, much of which comes from Australia. Certainly more repressive regimes are successful tourist destinations but the change here may raise alarms.

Generally speaking tourists themselves shouldn’t be at risk of running afoul of these laws. Prosecution would only be allowed “if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police” except in the case of homosexual acts “committed in public, with a minor or when used for commercial or pornographic purposes.”

Handing the power of prosecution over to a spurned lover or a family member, though, hardly seems like a protection.

The issue of same sex marriage in the U.S.is one where the tide of public opinion turned more quickly than on just about any issue, proponents were lonely voices 15 years ago and opponents were scoring political victories on the backs of ‘defense of marriage’ referendums.

It’s sobering to see opinion turn in the other direction quickly as well, with a local Indonesian LGBT activist stating “Six months ago, I would have thought it very unlikely a law like this would actually be passed. Now we have little reason to feel optimistic.”

Would this sort of change affect your desire to visit Indonesia?

(HT: Eugene Volokh)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary, I would like to give factual correction, Indonesia is not an islamic country, the majority of the population is muslims, but it is constitutionally a secular country which provides constitutional protections to 6 religions and belief (including assigning national holidays for those religions).
    There is wide gap between law and its implementation in Indonesia, so even if this one day for any reason would become law, i don’t think the implementation would be easy to say the least. Especially not in big cities and touristy areas.
    So, no, it wouldnt impact my desire to visit indonesia, it is very beautiful place.

  2. To add to what Jessnomad wrote:

    What he wrote is true to some extent. Bali, Yogyakarta and Solo (where the ancient Javanese royal kingdoms are based) are generally tolerant. Jakarta is about as cosmopolitan as you can get – really anything goes in Jakarta.

    However there are pockets where the mob of local thugs could make things ugly. There were incidents where local mobs demanded hotels to ‘turn over’ guest couples who were staying with no marriage certificate – I know that sounds really crazy – but it did happened. The Aceh province have laws that are Sharia-based.

    Should all of the above stop you from going? No, but do your research beforehand and plan ahead. Learn about where you want to go, do a bit more in-depth research, and mind your behavior relative to your surrounding.

    I grew up in a coastal city in northern coast of Java. There is a Crowne Plaza hotel sitting atop the most popular shopping mall in the city. If you were a couple and showing lots of PDA inside the CP lounge, I think you’d be fine. You don’t want to do the same thing sitting in the food court of the mall below.

  3. Bali has always been an oasis in the storm. After the bombings which were not done by Balinese, it took years for tourism to recover. Right now the volcano has destroyed the tourists visits. One would think that anything that might hurt tourism would be given careful thought before being passed into law. Hopefully the Balinese take a pass on this.

  4. The solution would be to take more bribe money than usual, should you find yourself in a nasty situation with the morals police.

  5. And yet many travel bloggers (some of them gay) happily travel to the ME, where such laws are already on the books, not to mention their treatment of women, ethnic and religious minorities. I guess if you are enjoying a nice F/J product, then it makes you temporarily forget about your lack of civil liberties.

  6. There are a lot of countries with hateful and hurtful laws and practices that violate basic human rights. Indonesia has been on that list for a long time.

    I wasn’t going before and still not going.

  7. Does it affect your desire to hawk the Maldives or Dubai? Or Russia?
    Personally I don’t need to go out of my way to visit and spend my cash in places that are run by nutcase authoritarians when there are so many fantastic democracies that are tolerant and inclusive.

  8. I don’t visit repressive countries. These bigots will not get my dollars. It’s bad enough living in Trump’s America.

  9. While most Indonesians are Muslim and most areas of Indonesia dominated by Muslims, Bali is a historically Hindu island, and so likely to be very passive in pursuing crimes that are driven by islamic traditionalists.

  10. If you were traveling only to tolerant parts like Bali and now you choose not to go, does that hurt the tolerant types or the bigots more?

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