Editor's note: as a travel publication, Out Traveler doesn't typically tell readers where they shouldn't go. There are often local pockets of LGBTQ-acceptance even in hostile countries (or states like Florida). And we know that LGBTQ+ tourists have been pivotal in changing the homophobia of some destinations. But we also want to make sure travelers are aware of dangers in a destination, and Indonesia is becoming increasingly risky.
On Tuesday, Indonesia passed a 200-page criminal code that bans sex outside marriage. The penalty is up to one year in prison.
This code also bans cohabitation before marriage, and places new limits on freedom of speech.
Insulting the president, or expressing ideas counter to “national ideology,” carries penalties of up to five years in prison.
This new criminal code applies to citizens and foreigners alike, including tourists.
Putu Winastra, chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies, told CNN that the laws should “make foreigners think twice” about visiting Indonesia.
Winastra expressed that foreign couples might have to prove they are married or else risk jail time. This could be trickier for same-sex couples.
There have been troubling reports about the dangers to LGBTQ+ travelers for some time in the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world.
In January 2020, an American lesbian couple were deported from Indonesia after touting the island of Bali as “queer-friendly.”
That same month, a same-sex couple in Indonesia’s Aceh province were publicly flogged 77 times after being caught having gay sex, which is forbidden under Sharia law.
In August, 2022, Rodrigo Ventocilla, a transgender Harvard Kennedy School student from Peru, died while on honeymoon in Bali after being detained at customs. The circumstances surrounding his death remain unknown.
If you do travel to hostile places like Indonesia, do your research first, share your plans with others, and try to avoid anything that could put you in danger.