Bali Political Party Challenges Anti-Porn Law With Petition

JAKARTA — The Bali People’s Component, known as the KRB, has finalized a judicial review challenging the recently ratified anti-pornography law and plans to present the review to the Constitutional Court on Jan. 9.

The law, which loosely defines pornography as any work that has the potential to arouse sexual desire, criminalizes the production and distribution with heavy fines and up to 12 years imprisonment for producers and distributors. The law also threatens those who download pornographic material with up to four years imprisonment.

Despite its overwhelming party majority in the House of Representatives, the law was met with harsh criticism, including rallies and street demonstrations, after getting officially signed into law by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last month.

“We are disappointed that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has signed the law,” said I Gusti Ngurah Harta, head of the KRB. “We will not vote for him in the elections next year.”

In its 50-page legal challenge, the KRB argues that the law “has trampled upon at least five constitutional rights granted to all Indonesian citizens,” said I Dewa Gde Palguna, chief legal advisor of the KRB, in that it denies Indonesian people in 21 separate professions their basic right to the freedom of expression, among other things. Some of the “at-risk” professions include dancers, playwrights, reporters, composers and gymnastics instructors, among others.

The petition also holds that the law serves as a potential threat to tourism and thus, the Balinese economy, and that it undermines Balinese culture and society.

“[The president’s] action goes against the spirit of the constitution and declaration of our independence,” said Wayan Sayoga, executive director of the National Integration Movement. “This law is not beneficial at all, except for leading the way to national disintegration.”

Harta says the KRB will request autonomy status for Bali and be “ready for civil disobedience” if the request for judicial review is denied by the Constitutional Court.

The KRB has estimated that the court will need about four months to come to a decision.

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