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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Country proposes public affection ban


Indonesia, a country with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, proposed a new law banning the public display of affection. If the new law passes, unmarried couples will be forbidden to kiss in public. The proposed law does not stop with restrictions on kissing. It also gives police officers the authority to search homes of all suspected unmarried couples living together.

“If neighbors think the presence of an unmarried couple living together is a nuisance, they can report it to the police,” said Justice Ministry Official Abdul Gani Abdullah to the BBC.

Pornography and the exposure of “certain sensual body parts” will also be forbidden. There will be more censorship for movies, music and other forms of media, reported Scottish online source

Many Muslim leaders have recently spoken out against Hollywood movies and TV programs, saying they “violate religious tenants on decency,” reports the BBC.

According to the Jakarta Post, offenders of these laws could be fined 300 million rupiah – almost $33,000 – as well as sentenced to jail for up to 10 years.

“I think that’s really messed up,” said junior philosophy major Michael Zielinski. “Even if a country is primarily Muslim, you should still not try to force government authority on any part of private life.”

This law is an attempt to bring Indonesia together with other Muslim states by passing stern restrictions on sexuality. Public displays of affection are considered indecent in the Muslim tradition, and Indonesia is starting an enormous clean-up with these restrictions.

“Kissing in public is a crime if the people around are not happy and will lodge a complaint,” said Abdullah to the BBC. “But if they think it’s all right, then no action will be taken.”

Although some appreciate the proposed law, others seem skeptical. Some Indonesians are worried about what effect this will have on tourism. Others, like women’s rights activist Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, accused the new order of being excessive and infringing on human rights, reported the Jakarta Post.

The law won’t be official for another two years. During this time, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Indonesian legislature will debate the new law and evaluate its support.

These restrictions are a part of recent reforms to old laws implemented from Indonesia’s Dutch colonial rulers in the late 1800s. The reforms will hopefully “set environmental protection standards and punish human rights violations and terrorism,” reported the Jakarta Post.

Here at Guilford, some students disagree with the proposed laws: “Being from the US, it’s hard to fathom putting religious beliefs ahead of your social rights,” said criminal justice major and junior Sarah Green.

“I think it’s outrageous,” said political science major Andy Kilibarda. “If we let the religious right take over this country, similar laws could be passed.

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