Police in the Indonesian province of Central Java said Thursday that they had "thwarted" a "marriage between man and man" in a statement posted on an official Facebook page of the Police Public Relations Division.
Conservative politicians and religious leaders immediately responded to the report as further evidence of the need for the government to crack down on "propaganda" from the LGBT movement, a measure the Communications Ministry recently announced it would write in response to an uproar over LGBT rights that began in January.
But details of the police account — including the fact that the couple is from a very remote part of Indonesia and appear to have been organizing their wedding with the blessing of their families — suggest that the couple may been organizing their wedding without any concern that it might be controversial.
Neither the couple nor residents of the small village of Wonosobo could be immediately reached by BuzzFeed News to confirm the report, but the police account suggests that this was not a "same-sex wedding." Instead it appears to be the attempt of a trans woman known as Andini Budi Sutrisno to marry a man named Didik Suseno. Pictures of the pair that accompanied the police report show one of them wearing a suit and the other decked out in full bridal regalia.
If the police account is correct, the couples appear to have been marrying with support of their family. The account said the bride's family facilitated customary wedding rituals, including announcing the union during a recitation of the Koran and receiving the groom's wedding party at their house.
The account suggests the couple ran into trouble when the groom's family requested legal documentation for the wedding from the district office of Indonesia's Religious Affairs Department. The request was denied because Sutrisno is legally designated as male, and the local officials wrote to both families ordering that the wedding be called off. The police said they were called in by people in the village who objected when the families prepared to hold the ceremony anyway.
"Indonesian law is clear that marriage in Indonesia must be between a man and a woman," the police statement quoted Criminal Investigation Unit commander Harsono as saying. "The law obviously forbids marriage between a man and man."
The release also quotes the head of the local religious school, KH Ismail of the Al-Iman Tanjunganom Pesantren blasting the attempted union.
"God created only male and female, fixed as man and woman at birth — not transgender [waria] nor transvestite [banci]," Ismail reportedly said.
News of the police intervention broke amidst an unprecedented outcry against LGBT rights in Indonesia, which has also lead to new hostility towards the country's traditional third gender community, the waria, who were have historically been treated as separate from LGBT activists with international ties. There have also been periodic reports from throughout Southern Asia spanning many decades before the birth of an LGBT movement in the region of similar couples attempting to wed according to local customs.
But anti-LGBT leaders held up the police account as evidence that LGBT advocacy had polluted Indonesian culture.
"It shows the propaganda of the LGBT community remans incessant," said Hidayat Nur Wahid, deputy speaker of Indonesia's legislature, told a local news outlet. "So it has made victims of two [people] in Wonosobo."
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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