Same-sex marriage is illegal in Indonesia, but some people still go to enormous lengths and take on tremendous risk to break down the social and cultural constructs of gender to be with the person they love.
One couple, Pratama (30) and Wilis Setyowati (27), were supposed to wed today in Purworejo, Central Java, after dating for seven years. However, their wedding was called off after the bride’s family and marriage officials found out that Pratama was actually a woman posing as a man.
“This is so painful. I’m disappointed and embarrassed,” said Wilis’ mother, Markamah, as quoted by Detik yesterday.
According to Markamah, Pratama came to her house to ask for Wilis’ hand in marriage last Thursday. Strangely, Pratama came alone and was not with her family, as is customary in most Indonesian cultures.
Pratama’s true gender was exposed when the couple went to apply for a marriage certificate at a local Religious Affairs Office (KUA). Officials there received information from locals that Pratama is not actually a man, so they made her go through a medical examination to determine her true identity, after which they found out that her real name is Nova Aprida Avriani.
The KUA officials then denied the couple’s request for marriage and reported them to the local police. The couple was then investigated by the police, though it has yet been reveal if they will be charged with any crimes.
It’s also not yet known if Wilis was aware of Pratama’s biological gender when they were dating.
Last year, also in Central Java, a woman posed as a man in order to get married with another woman. However, in that case, the wife was not aware of the true gender of her “husband” as “he” allegedly refused to consummate their marriage for months. When the deception was exposed, the poser was charged with falsifying her identity and faced up to seven years in prison.
Same-sex marriage faces such strong opposition in Indonesia that last year’s marriage between celebrities Aming Supriatna Sughandi and Evelyn Nada Anjani — neither of whom conform to traditional Indonesian cultural gender roles, with (Aming) appearing effeminate and (Evelyn) appearing masculine during many of their appearances — pushed the issue into the spotlight, with even the House of Representatives (DPR) calling for Aming and Evelyn’s marriage to be investigated to make sure that they did not violate the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.