The ‘Bali bonk ban’: Why people in other countries are vexed by Indonesia’s sweeping sex laws

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Many South Africans find they get a lot of bang for their buck in budget-friendly Bali.
Many South Africans find they get a lot of bang for their buck in budget-friendly Bali.
Oleg Breslavtsev/Getty

Oh, Bali!

Sweet Bali – with your floating breakfasts, heavenly spas and retreats, and pocket-friendly travel packages – what must happen now?

This is the question that many are asking around the world as sweeping sex laws will make it illegal for people who are not married to each other to have sex.

“The new code, which will apply to Indonesians and visiting foreigners alike and has prompted alarm from human rights campaigners, will also prohibit cohabitation between unmarried couples,” reports The Guardian.

Although the code, which still needs to be approved by president Joko Widodo, comes into force after three years, many businesses and travellers are perturbed.

The criminal code is seen as a step back in advancing the civil liberties of residents and visitors to the Muslim-majority Indonesia, as secularism is enshrined in the constitution.

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“Sex outside of marriage will be punished with one year in prison, while unmarried people living together could face six months in jail,” news agency AFP reports.

Some media outlets in Australia have started calling the criminal code ‘the Bali bonk ban’, decrying how the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands neighbouring it on the east is moving towards fundamentalism.

“Indonesia’s economy heavily relies on tourism from Australia, which was Indonesia's number one tourist source before the pandemic. Thousands of people fly to the tropical island of Bali every month to bask in its warm weather, indulge in cheap Bintang beers and rave at all-night beach parties,” reports the BBC.

“Bali weddings are quite common, and thousands of Australia's graduate students fly to Bali every year to celebrate finishing high school.”

“For many young Australians, a trip to Bali is seen as a rite of passage. Others go there a few times a year for quick, cheap getaways.”

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A Bali holiday is not just a bucket list item for Australians, but for many South Africans too, who find they get a lot of bang for their ZAR in the island.

Will you try to get in a quick holiday with your partner now – before the law is comes into effect in three years’ time?

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