Indonesia: Lesbian couple forced to flee after pretending to be straight in order to get married

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Despite equal marriage being illegal in Indonesia, a lesbian couple managed to obtain a marriage license by pretending that one of them was male.  

According to the Jakarta post, Angga Sucipto, 21, and Ninies Ramiliyutias, 40, got married in January 2012 at the Sei Beduk Religious Affairs Office, in Riau Islands, by pretending Angga was male.

They obtained a marriage license, and were unchallenged throughout the process, as officials saw no reason to be suspicious.

“The administrative requirements for the marriage were complete, so there was no way we could forbid them from getting married,” said the head of the office, Budi Dharmawan.

The report suggests that the couple’s marriage went undetected by locals, until Angga’s lack of interaction with neighbours started to raise suspicions.

A neighbour of the couple, Ricard Butar-Butar, said that their house was raided, and they discovered that Angga was not male.

“Finally, on Monday, we raided the couple’s house and discovered that Angga was actually a female,” he said.

Angga was then forced to leave the house, but Ninien was allowed to stay because she owned it, Ricard had said.

Despite this, the whereabouts of both women remain unknown, as they fled together after the raid, he said.

Following the discovery that the couple are actually both female, the head of the Sei Beduk Religious Affairs Office, Handarlin Umar, said it planned to increase the frequency of marriage counselling to prevent similar cases in future

The office also intended to report the incident to the Religious Ministry.

“We are still deciding whether to file a report with the police. We will report the case to the ministry first to ask for guidance on how to proceed,” he said.

Back in 2009, human rights groups condemned a planned move to introduce public lashings and imprisonment for homosexuality, but it was never signed into law.

In 2011, the country’s information minister was censured internationally for joking about HIV/AIDS on Twitter.