Central Java, surprise gay marriage not legal
by Mathias Hariyadi
Ratu Airin Karla and Dumani, two men, invited relatives and friends to a party to celebrate their long friendship. Participants found themselves instead at a real wedding, celebrated according to the Javanese tradition. The union was not recognized by the government, because it lacks the necessary blessing of religious authority.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - For the first time, two Indonesians gay men celebrated their marriage in public, masquerading it as a party to celebrate their long friendship. The event, which took place in the village of Cluntang, province of Boyolali (Central Java), was held according to local rules, with both spouses dressed in traditional Javanese wedding costume, a large number of guests and a banquet.

The couple had also sent invitations to friends and family, asking for their "blessing". The marriage has not yet been legally registered. In Indonesia, in fact, the legalization of a union (between men and women) can take place only if first authorized by a religious authority, and then registered at the local Civil Record Agency.

One of the "spouses", Ratu Airin Karla, has been known by the local community since he was a child. During his sixth year of primary school (11-12 years) he completely changed behavior "from that day began to wear only women's clothes," says a villager. Nevertheless, Karla has always socialized with friends and with the locals. During the "wedding" she wore a traditional wedding dress.

Family members and participants at the celebration were shocked when they discovered that the feast of "thanksgiving" was actually a real marriage. The local community expressed disappointment and will not recognize the union.

The village chief, Suryati said that the couple did not send any letter of request to the authorities for the wedding celebration. According to Indonesian law, the government must first ensure that the spouses do not already have a partner or have "serious obstacles" to the union.

Suryati said that he would never give permission to Karla and Dumani (the "groom"), because their relationship is "abnormal", the wedding illegal and against Islamic religious teachings.

Last September, another union between people of the same sex (a man of Bali and an American tourist) was celebrated in Ubud, the most popular resort on the island, triggering the reaction of rejection of civil society.

Last year the Catholic University Sanata Dharma had to cancel a seminar on "diverse" sexual orientation, after receiving threats from Islamic extremists.