TWO Indonesian female migrant workers are being investigated by police after they managed to officially marry each other in a country in which same-sex marriage remains illegal.
According to the Jakarta Post, the marriage was discovered after one of the women, known as Farel, abandoned a newborn baby by the side of the road in their home town of Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra.
The baby was left 50 metres away from her wife’s house on Thursday, leading locals to suspect Farel of dumping the baby.
Daman Wuri, a resident who lives nearby, told the Jakarta Post that locals were shocked by the incident. “Farel told us she was a widower with a child, so we were not suspicious when she married Salmah,” he said.
Farel has since confessed the baby is hers. Tanjungbalai police spokesperson Adj. Comr. Y Sinulingga said that she abandoned the baby in order to maintain her disguise as a man.
Prior to their marriage on Nov 30, the two women were migrant workers in Malaysia. After the nuptials, Farel returned to Malaysia while Salmah, her wife, stayed in Indonesia. Farel returned to Tanjungbalai just a week before the birth.
According to the Tanjungbalai police, Salmah did not know that her “husband” was a woman as they had not been intimate after the wedding and claimed that she would not have married Farel had she known that she was a woman. Salmah is quoted as saying she “is still normal,” in defence of her actions.
Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Indonesia with many LGBT people facing contempt and discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation. In 2015, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister stated that it is unacceptable in Indonesia, because strongly held religious norms speak strongly against it.
Amid escalating attacks on the LGBT community, Indonesian President Joko Widodo finally spoke out in October last year to claim that “the police must act” if they see discrimination against LGBT people. He continued, “There should be no discrimination against anyone.”
But he went on to say that, “the people of Indonesia has a culture, have norms, and in Indonesia, beliefs does not allow it, Islam does not allow it.”