"This bill should no longer be creating controversy and should be ready to be passed," Muhaimin said. (Google photo)
JAKARTA – After months of discussions, Indonesian lawmakers have agreed that bikinis are acceptable attire for beaches in the world's most populous Muslim country.
"Tourists will be able to wear bikinis in special tourist areas, such as in Bali, so Indonesia's tourism industry won't be hurt by this legislation," Democrat Party lawmaker Husein Abdul Azis told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday, October 17.
"We are listening to the protests of stakeholders and people at large," he added, referring to fears the tourism industry would suffer if bikinis were criminalized.
Bikinis were to be criminalized under a new a pornography bill, being debated by the parliament.
But politicians and tourism entrepreneurs have warned that the bill would undermine the country's tourism industry.
Indonesia has declared 2008 "Visit Indonesia Year" and hopes to attract seven million visitors, earning 6.7 billion dollars in foreign exchange revenues.
However, tourist arrival figures indicate the target is unlikely to be reached.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, with Muslims making up some 86.1 percent of the 235 million population.
The agreement came after MPs introduced radical changes to the pornography bill.
"I can say there have been drastic changes in the bill," Balkan of the Golkar Party told the Jakarta Post.
Proposed in 1999, the bill defines porn as sexual material that includes photographs, cartoons, films, poems, vocalization, conversations and body gestures in the media, or in public shows, exhibits or performances.
It calls for criminalizing those who arouse sexual propensity, desires or longings or contravene community ethics, decency or morality.
The bill also imposes fines on women who refuse to cover "sensitive" body parts, such as hair, shoulders, midriffs and legs.
It also slaps a seven-year jail term on people caught kissing in public.
"The porn bill will treat recreational and leisure areas differently," Husein, the Democratic Party lawmaker.
The parliamentary committee debating the bill will inform the public about the changes in the coming few days.
"We must publicize the changes in the media," said MP Muhaimin Iskandar of the National Awakening Party (PKB).
"This bill should no longer be creating controversy and should be ready to be passed."