The Porn Bill in Indonesia: A Threat to Pluralism?

Maren Höpfner


On 30 October 2008 Indonesia’s parliament passed a controversial pornography bill after following years of heavy debate. According to the wording of the law, pornography means not only the production and distribution of pornographic material, but also behaviour that violates moral ethics in the community or incites sexual exploitation. This vague definition led to massive protests by human and women’s rights groups, some provinces, and supporters of the state’s pluralism. The opponents of the law claim that women’s rights and the traditions of the non-Muslim minority, as well as the pluralism and the unity of the country, are endangered. Furthermore, they worry that conservative Islam will grow in importance. The enduring dispute on the porn bill mirrors a fundamental conflict: the impacts of Islam on policy in pluralistic communities. This article illustrates the debate on the pornography bill and at the same time considers the question of to what extent pluralism in Indonesia is threatened and restricted by Islamism.

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