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Indonesia Reportedly Mulls Kissing Ban


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Indonesia Reportedly Mulls Kissing Ban

By Associated Press

February 5, 2005, 10:48 PM EST

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Call it a kissing crackdown. Indonesia's government is considering a law banning unwed couples from pecking in public -- and harshly penalizing those who do, The Jakarta Post reported Saturday.

The campaign against kissing is part of a proposal of sweeping reforms to laws adopted by the country's Dutch colonial rulers in the late 19th century.

The head of the panel that drafted the law said Muslim beliefs about decency had influenced its decision. Neighboring countries with large Muslim populations, such as Malaysia and Brunei, already enforce laws defining "khalwat," or "close proximity," a crime akin to adultery for unchaperoned meetings between Muslim men and women.

Indonesia's revised laws would set environmental protection standards and punish human rights violations and terrorism, the newspaper said.

But they would also impose penalties on unwed couples who kiss in public, while permitting police raids on the homes of those suspected of living together out of wedlock.

Pornography and public displays of "certain sensual body parts" would be outlawed and media, movies and songs censored.

Penalties for law breakers would range from fines as high as 300 million rupiah (US$32,800; euro25,300) to up to 10 years imprisonment, according to the daily.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the legislature are expected to spend two years debating and revising the draft.

Critics say the laws would let authorities restrict personal freedoms and muzzle the media.

In recent years, Hollywood movies and TV programs have faced condemnation from religious leaders and government officials in the world's most populous Muslim nation who say such fare violates religious tenets on decency.

Islamic conservatives -- some of whom want to replace Indonesia's secular system with one bound by Islamic law -- have been emboldened since the fall of ex-dictator Suharto in 1998.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

www.newsday.com

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