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Bali Rejects New Anti-Pornography Law

Nation-Wide Battle Brewing as Bali Joins Many Regions across Indonesia in Rejecting New Pornography Legislation.

(11/15/2008) The adoption of the unpopular anti-pornography law by the national House of Representatives in Jakarta on Thursday, October 31, 2008, prompted a walk-out by the representatives of two political parties and the threat of civil disobedience from the people of Bali.

Bali's governor, Made Mangku Pastika, quoted in Radar Bali responded to the passage of the bill by saying: "We in Bali continue to refuse (the new law). Until the end of time we will resist the ratification of the anti-pornography law." Pastika told the press that the new law cannot be equally applied in all parts of Indonesia and that any effort to do so will end in failure.

Similar reactions were heard elsewhere in Indonesia, including a statement from the popular Governor of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamangku Buwono, who said he joined Governor Pastika in refusing the new law, promising to coordinate with other national leaders on how best to proceed with a program of civil resistance. North Sulawesi also joined the early ranks of Indonesian provinces saying "no" to the divisive new rules.

The new law contains a number of highly controversial clauses, inexpertly drafted by religious leaders with little or no legislative experience. Many modes of traditional dress and cultural expression have been left in limbo by the new law which leaves the definition of pornography to every individual who is also empowered under the new law to mount vigilante acts to capture and punish those he or she deems "obscene."

Tempo Interactive reports that various groups in Bali are preparing a legal challenge to the new law on the grounds that it is in conflict with the National Constitution.

According to a local community leader, I Gusti Ngurah Harta: "we think the law is in opposition with the 1945 Law (constitution) as it discriminates against some citizens." Harta also takes specific issue with special clauses in the revised law that exempts traditional art, customs, and culture. Adding, "(It is) as if we have (a) porn culture, but we are getting special treatment."

Opposition in Bali take issue with the new laws vagueness, allowing multiple interpretations of what constitutes pornography, depending on local cultures to differentiate what is and is not obscene. "This law could legitimize anarchy in the name or eradicating porn."

At this stage, one thing is for certain. We've not heard the last of the struggle against the unpopular anti-pornography law.

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