Sep 29

Topless Beach anyone?If you have been reading any Indonesian newspaper or internet website lately, chances are that you have heard about the new Pornography Bill.

This is an initiative, which could come into law in October to ‘protect’ Indonesia from decadent western influences like pornography and overly sexual displays in public. It shall ensure and uphold public morality. Even TIME magazine had a lengthy article recently.

A lot of controversy has been stirred up already, on what is pornography, erotic or indecent and from what Indonesians should be protected. The irritations go so far, that many fear that Indonesia’s and especially Bali’s liberal tourism can come to a complete standstill, if citizens and tourists have to cover any displays of skin in public and should refrain from normal acts, which are considered harmless elsewhere:

So what’s the buzz about?

The bill was brought into parliament initially 3 years ago by conservative Muslims, mainly the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) – but was soon taken up by ruling party Golkar as well, as they saw a chance of bolstering their swindling support in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Although the country is overwhelmingly moderate and most Indonesians see the proposed actions as going too far, there were over the years nevertheless plenty of initiatives of Islam hardliners to introduce Sharia law or tightening other liberal laws and policies, this bill is just one example.

“We have to stop this drift toward moral liberalization” was stated by the chairman of the country’s second largest Muslim organization. It fits even into the larger goal by Islamists of erecting Islamic caliphates in the middle of Southeast Asia.

Sounds pretty much like Malaysia? You bet.

Luckily the bill was suspended several times amidst demonstrations and resistance among the population and mainly Hindus in Bali, as it ‘overlaps with existing regulations’ and would trample local customs in a country of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.

What is questioned?

Here are some examples of the range of questioned actions, which could be considered a display of “sexual provocations” and could be prosecuted with heavy fines or even arrest in the future:

  • Local and foreign Teenagers who show bellybuttons in public or wear short skirts
  • Tourists in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia who sunbath bikini-clad or even topless
  • Tribes in Papua, who run around naked since centuries, only dressed with shorts if at all
  • Balinese traditions to wear tight blouses with transparent elements, wearing of shoulder-free dresses, performing dances and other thousand-year-old arts
  • Kissing in public of non-married couples or couples of the same sex
  • Old grandmothers in rural villages who walk the earth topless, due to humidity and hot weather conditions
  • Paintings depicting sexual motives, erotic objects or nudity

In western countries, pornography is mainly restricted to media material, like magazines, DVD’s, videos, the internet – with the passing of this bill that would be mixed up substantially with all kinds of day to day things, including music, dances, cultural activities up to dress code and behavior.

Dangers for Bali and beyond

Although the bill would be in place nationwide, obviously the Hindu island of Bali would have to suffer most, as it sees substantial numbers of tourists and customs and culture are very different from the Islamic parts of the country.

Bali Protests over Pornography BillTourists would probably stay home, if they weren’t allowed to swim or surf in their usual attire on the island’s many beaches or if they even would risk of being fined or arrested. With Bali accounting for up to 80% of Indonesia’s tourism income, this could be fatal for the industry as a whole.

Indonesia’s motto ‘Unity in Diversity’ would be under threat as well, as for many cultures, tribes and ethnic groups around the archipelago, various thousand-year-old activities, traditions and customs would have to be adjusted severely and new ‘medieval rules’ would have to be enforced.

This is simply ridiculous!

With the approach of Idul Fitri, or the end of Ramadan, the fasting month, the passing of the bill was delayed – once again, much to the dismal of mentioned Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). The next meetings are scheduled for after Idul Fitri, with political organizations like the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the Communications and Information Ministry and the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment.

Let’s hope for the best, that these are still settled in reality and finally throw out the bill for good.

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written by Chris

10 Responses to “Will the Pornography Bill grab Bali Tourism by the Balls?”

  1. LifecruiserNo Gravatar SWEDEN Says:

    It sounds like an impossible thing to implement. For me as a Swede, it’s like another planet. As you say: it will be fatal for their tourism. *shaking my head*

  2. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    it looks like it won’t pass though so that is good but it would totally kill tourism in Bali!!

  3. FidaNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    It’s disturbing to see that fundamentalists seem to gain more and more power. Let’s hope for the best.

  4. Effortless AbundanceNo Gravatar HONG KONG Says:

    Another example of religion going against reason. I certainly won’t be going anywhere near Bali if these people get their way.

  5. Andreea VaasNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    :-/ there are some things which look funny in this bill, like the kissing law

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Oh yeah, the bill passed today, unbelievable! Now we can only hope that the president, Mr SBY won’t sign it. Otherwise up to 12 years of jail for violations. Oha! :-o

  7. Moving to Goa - 11 early Impressions | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] all the sexy girls? Coming from Bali’s liberal beaches (although endangered, read about the recently passed pornography bill), that is an apparent, yet shocking observation. No tight jeans with tiny T-shirt or tank tops, no […]

  8. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    you are rigth chris,i am indonesia but is compeletely impossible till rigth now is doesnt work yet about anty pornography,why i can say that because now is globalisasi to open mind but the president just the change for women use,i mean like this the president will see part of porno or no but for bali is impossible i thougth.coming soon part destination is lombok,sulawesi and other islands booming for tourist place is not so easy is just some fanatik person in indonesia region to destroy the beautiful diversity for us,ABOUT tight jean,tiny T-shirt,tank top is NO just rumor in the public media,the fact not bali or jakarta outside there sumatra and all the other islands still have use tiny T-shirt or tank top.SO that just trick fanatik people who want look great in front public is NOT RIGTH just DONT TOO MUCH OR OVER in your way that it ;-) ;-)

  9. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi, Chris. I’ve read the article above. I read the comments too. The bill, if passed and signed to become a law, will surely kill the tourism economy of Bali.

    …and, I am wondering. If ever I’ll visit Indonesia as a spandex-clad bicycle tourist, will I be penalized? Will it considered a form of pornography? Hmmnnn… :D

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Dodong, yeah, the problem here is the double standard when considering those things. A Politician here, who watched porn in the parliament and got photographed doing it, can walk free. A Popstar here, who got his laptop stolen, which had some sex videos on it with another pop star, got jailed for 2 years, when the videos emerged on the internet. The thief of the laptop which is known, didn’t receive any sentence. Strange and questionable practices. But heyyyyy! ;-)

    With your bicycle pants you should be basically fine, as long as you stay in the more liberal parts of the country. Bali shouldn’t be a problem, even bare-chested youngster can be seen here, that doesn’t mean though, it’s accepted – but at least it doesn’t get punished. ;-)

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