Surabaya court allows interfaith marriage to prevent cohabitation

Photo for illustration purpose only.
Photo for illustration purpose only.

It wasn’t exactly done in the name of love, but the Surabaya District Court has given a landmark legal stamp for interfaith marriage.

A Muslim groom, RA, and a Christian bride, EDS, filed a request with the local Population and Civil Registry (Dukcapil) to have their planned marriage legally recognized. After the request was denied, they  filed a petition with the Surabaya District Court on April 13, 2022.

The Surabaya District Court granted RA and EDS their request on April 22, ordering Dukcapil officials to bear witness to their wedding and grant them all their marriage documents.

The story became public this week after RA and EDS’ court petition was uploaded to the Surabaya District Court’s website. Furthermore, the marriage was legally unprecedented in Surabaya.

“On record, this is the only case. Just one so far,” Surabaya District Court deputy spokesman Gede Agung said yesterday.

He added that the law doesn’t explicitly forbid interfaith couples from tying the knot in Indonesia. Adherents of any of the country’s recognized religions are entitled to file court petitions to have their interfaith marriages recognized.

And all of that is grounded on a practical official justification and the prevention of a practice that’s culturally frowned upon.

“[If interfaith marriages are denied] then the district court can grant them to avoid kumpul kebo (cohabitation involving unmarried couples) and for clarity on who the child’s father is,” Surabaya District Court spokesman Suparno said separately.

Indonesian law is somewhat vague on the validation of interfaith marriages. One clause in the Marriage Law states that a marriage is valid “if conducted according to laws of religion and belief of both parties.”

While minority religions in Indonesia may allow the practice, the mainstream belief among Indonesian Muslims is that interfaith marriage is forbidden. In fact, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest Islamic clerical body in the nation, issued a fatwa (religious edict) in 2005 declaring interfaith marriage haram (forbidden).

Legal attempts to separate marriage from religion have failed in the past.

Also Read

Faith in Love: Muslim bride and Catholic groom brave stigma and haters

Catholic man seeking to marry Muslim girlfriend challenges legal hurdles for interfaith marriage

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