Indonesia: you can kiss, but not more 5 minutes

Couples kissing in public for longer than five minutes could soon face arrest in one Indonesian city as part of proposed laws cracking down on behavior seen as un-Islamic, an official and media reports said Friday. The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia does not enforce Shariah, or Islamic law, on a national level. But in recent years, several regions have issued bylaws to regulate personal behavior in line with Islamic morality.

Tangerang on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta , is considering legislation to ban couples from "constant lip-to-lip kissing for more than five minutes" in public, Koran Tempo daily paper quoted from a copy of the bill. Nana, an official at the local council confirmed that the legislation was under consideration, but declined to elaborate.

The legislation would also ban couples from touching each other in a sensual way, and opening each others' clothing, the paper said. The paper said violators would face "arrest," but gave no details. "Don't dramatize this, we are not oppressors," city official Ahmad Lutfi was quoted as saying when asked whether people enforcing the law would be equipped with stopwatches to time public embraces.

Hajjah Utju, a Tangerang resident, said the proposed regulation was unnecessary. "The law is all right I suppose. But in my view, I think no need for it," the 41-year-old woman said. "In Islam, such lip-to-lip kissing in public is not allowed, and most of us are Muslims here."

Laws proposed by Islamic clerics currently being debated in parliament would also ban kissing in public, as well as erotic art and pornography. They are facing opposition from nationalist lawmakers, who form a majority in the house. Tangerang last year introduced laws banning women from being on the street alone after dark as part of moves to stop prostitution. The regulation has been criticized by humans rights groups and women activists. Despite moves to popularize a more conservative brand of Islam, most of Indonesia 's 200 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the faith and are tolerant of other faiths and lifestyles. In Indonesia as in many other Asian countries couples, married or not, rarely kiss on the lips in public. Women often kiss their husband on the hand when saying goodbye in front of others, reports the AP.

N.U.