Did You Know These 7 Countries Have Laws Against Unmarried Couples? : Know The Laws Before Traveling


Indonesia; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Did You Know These 7 Countries Have Laws Against Unmarried Couples? : Know The Laws Before Traveling by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

Some countries are welcoming to unwed couples, solo travelers, and the LGBTQ community, while many are not. These are serious considerations you need to take while planning your travels. Begin with this short, non-exhaustive list of countries that have laws that can land unmarried couples in trouble.


Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, Bali, Indonesia; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Indonesia by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

The Indonesian Parliament passed a criminal code that outlaws sex out of marriage for its own citizens and visitors. If reported by close relatives, it could lead to a prison sentence of up to a year. There is also a ban on unmarried couples living together.

The governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, said that visitors to Bali don’t need to worry and they won’t be asked to show marriage certificates for accommodations. However, travel experts predict that it will deter travelers from flying off to the Asian nation.


Qatar; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Qatar by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

The FIFA World Cup 2022 has highlighted Qatar’s conservative laws, where alcohol is prohibited, women’s rights are non-existent, and homosexuality is illegal.

Unmarried couples also face a host of other problems: pre-marital sex is illegal, and public intimacy can also land you in jail. If you get pregnant before getting married, you and your partner may be jailed or deported, according to the U.K. travel advisory.


Al Ula Saudi Arabia; (c): Unsplash

Photo of Saudi Arabia by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

Saudi Arabia is a highly gender-segregated country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. It’s one of the harshest countries with conservative laws where pre-marital sex is also illegal, as is adultery, and unmarried couples can’t live together. Public intimacy can get you arrested.

Women have limited freedoms, and they need a permission from their male guardians to marry, travel, and have an abortion. However, a recent change in law has made it possible for foreign couples to stay in a hotel room without furnishing a marriage license.


Thean Hou Temple, Malaysia; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Malaysia by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

Another nation that is intolerant of pre-marital sex is Malaysia. Muslims are ruled under Syariah law (Sharia), and there are penalties for unmarried couples. Homosexuality is also not permitted, and though convictions are rare, same-sex couples are harassed.

In December 2022, 18 people were detained at an LGBTQ+ party, and activists are concerned about the turn things may be taking.


Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Pakistan by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

An Islamic country, Pakistan is also ruled under Sharia law. It is illegal to drink alcohol, have sex outside of marriage, or cohabitate with someone you’re not married to, and homosexuality is banned.

Four years ago, the country passed a bill to protect the rights of the transgender community, which was often targeted, discriminated against, and brutalized. It was a historic win.


Pyramids of Giza; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Egypt by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

An Egyptian TV host was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017 for discussing pre-marital sex on TV. It is taboo to have sex outside of marriage in the country, and although there are no explicit laws banning homosexuality, LGBTQ+ Egyptians do get arrested and sentenced.

Forbes list Egypt as one of the 20 dangerous countries for gay travelers, explaining, “For LGBTQ+ travelers, it is recommended not to disclose your sexuality and avoid using dating apps since the local police have been known to create fake accounts to ‘catch’ LGBTQ+ travelers looking to engage in illegal activity.”


Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco; (c):Unsplash

Photo of Morocco by Tanvi Shah (travelstoriesbytan)

In 2019, a journalist was sentenced to a year in prison for pre-marital sex and illegal abortion. Sex outside of marriage is prohibited in the country. So much so that hotels ask for a marriage license from couples to share the same room. After the pandemic, hoteliers pleaded with the government to change this law that can land couples in jail for up to a year if they are caught.

It is believed that Moroccans face the brunt of it, while foreigners may not be prosecuted. However, if one of the partners is a citizen, it will be a problem. The country also has laws against homosexual activities, and again, locals are treated harshly while foreigners are often given a pass.

Like we read, the foreigners are often not prosecuted as harshly as citizens, but you should still be cautious of local customs and laws.

For more travel stories, follow me on @travelstoriesbytan.

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