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Indonesian city seeks gay ban in local Sharia laws

Indonesian city seeks gay ban in local Sharia laws

The Indonesian city of Tasikmalaya in West Java is seeking to implement controversial Sharia based laws which would make it compulsory for all Muslim women in the city to wear headscarfs and criminalise homosexuality.

Homosexuality is not an offence under Indonesia’s national laws. However many local government areas within the country have sought to ban it by including it in local public morality laws.

The Tasikmalaya law was originally passed by councillors from Islamic parties in 2009 but city officials have taken until now to develop the regulations needed to implement it.

The law also outlaws adultery, pornography and the consumption of alcohol within the municipality’s borders.

Tasikmalaya city secretary Tio Indra Setiadi told that the city would set up a squad of Sharia police to enforce the law like those already operating in Indonesia’s autonomous province of Aceh.

"This bylaw is intended mainly to educate people to live in accordance with Islamic teachings," Setiadi said.

"[But] people intending to report violations of the bylaw will face difficulties if we don’t have an apparatus to enforce it.”

The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has the power to throw out the law within 30 days if he believes it conflicts with constitutional human rights protections, or it can be challenged in the Supreme Court of Indonesia.

However recent reports suggest Indonesia’s Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi may be prepared to act to block the law or require the watering down of some components of it.

The news comes less than two weeks after American pop star Lady Gaga cancelled her Jakarta concert after Islamic groups protested against her performing in the country.