One thing I often hear from activists in very conservative countries is that marriage is not a priority because there’s much more urgent work to be done to make LGBT people safe and protect them from government harassment.
That’s a practical argument. But I’m struck by the stories that appear every few months about people in such countries going to great lengths to try to marry anyway, like the couple in India’s Uttar Pradesh that tried to marry this spring.
This one appeared this week from Indonesia. The Jakarta Post reports that two women—Angga Sucipto, 21, and Ninies Ramiliyutias, 40—managed to marry in January of 2012 by having Angga pass as a man when they registered their marriage with the Sei Beduk Religious Affairs Office (KUA) in Riau Islands.
The story is confusing, but it sounds like Angga is transgendered and lived as a man full time. But eventually the locals became suspicious of Angga for “never interact[ing] with them.” So the neighbors “raided” the couple’s house to check on Angga’s sex.
The story quotes “a neighbor” named Ricard Butar-Butar: “Finally, on Monday, we raided the couple’s house and discovered that Angga was actually a female.”
The community expelled Angga from the house but allowed Ninies to stay “because she owned the house.” Yet Ninies appears to have fled the house and gone into hiding after the raid.
The story continues:
Following the discovery of the same-sex couple, the Riau Islands KUA plans to increase the frequency of marriage counseling to prevent similar cases from happening in the future, according to the office’s head, Handarlin Umar.
The office also planned to report the marriage to the Religious Ministry next Monday, he added.
“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,” Handarlin said.