DENPASAR (Indonesia), Sept 23: About 1,000 people protested against Indonesia’s anti-pornography bill on the resort island of Bali on Tuesday, prompting the local governor to vow he would ask the president to drop the controversial legislation.

The protesters — who wore traditional Balinese sarongs and headdresses, and carried banners with the words “Anti-porn bill no, Indonesia yes” — marched to Governor Made Mangku Pastika’s office in Denpasar.

“We will sign a Balinese statement and will send it immediately to President SBY,” Pastika told the crowd, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by his initials.

The anti-porn bill is being pushed by a small group of Islamist parties in predominantly Muslim, but officially secular, Indonesia.

But it has been condemned by some of the country’s minorities including the Balinese, who are Hindu, as well as Christians, and some tribal groups who favour near nudity as traditional attire.

Critics say that the exceptions to the bill for sexually explicit cultural and artistic material are too vague, and that by allowing civil organisations to play a role in preventing pornography, this could open the door for vigilante groups to take the law into their own hands.

Legislators have so far stopped short of passing the bill, which has been discussed for about three years, because critics say it would threaten Indonesia’s tradition of tolerance and diversity.—Reuters

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