06/22/2015, 00.00
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Indonesian Constitutional Court denies recognition of mixed marriages

by Mathias Hariyadi
The judges rejected the appeal filed by a group of law students. The amendment was aimed at recognition of marriages between spouses of different faiths. Only the religious rite common to both spouses gives civil value to act. The battle of the Catholic Church for the recognition of civil rights.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Indonesian Constitutional Court (MK) has rejected the request to amend the marriages law, which so far has prevented the recognition of mixed marriages between spouses of different religions. A controversial law, which last July a group of law students tried to change through a personal - and popular - initiative that he had found the support of the leaders of the local Catholic Church.

In recent days, the supreme court judgment was handed down, according to which the law number 1 of 1974 remains in force according to which the full foundation of a marital union is based on "religion" and religious rite. And that, consequently, does not allow marriages between people of different faiths and forces, in case one of the couple is Muslim, the other spouse to embrace Islam.

The Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) had "married" in this battle to the defense of civil rights, particularly in the field of intermarriage between believers of different religions, which must always be recognized, guaranteed and protected. A position that is a break with the laws of the state of the world's most populous Muslim country, under which a civil union always follows the celebration of a religious service by which it is founded; because only the mantle of religion makes the actual union between two people, who "must" profess the same faith.

The law governing marriage is the UU No 1/1974, and Chapter 2 Verse 1, which states that "only when marriage is performed on the basis of religion and done before religious figure, then their marital status is considered as legal by the State”. In recent months, thanks to the work of academics and scholars from four universities of Law in Jakarta, within the Constitutional Court has opened a debate on the possibility - and necessity - of a regulatory review.

The proposal was submitted to the Court in July 2014 and had three aspects: the inability to recognize a civil union, without the prior approval of a religion (those recognized by the State); the veto unions, if both spouses are from different faiths; the paragraph which calls on both partners to profess the same religion.

Last September, the then Minister for Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim confirmed the validity of the law in place and excluded the need for a constitutional amendment. He added that before any legislative intervention, religious leaders had to be consulted, in particular the experts of Islamic law. The former president of the Constitutional Court has closed the door to any possible amendments, stressing that "if an interfaith couple insists on legalizing their status, they may go abroad."

To mixed couples not only have no alternative other than the celebration of a function overseas, or the conversion of one of the spouses.  Moreover, marriage in Indonesia it is not generally a question of the heart and personal choice, because it often involves families and becomes the subject of controversy in terms of faith. Fr. Purbo Tamtomo a law specialist Archdiocese of Jakarta, is a long time campaigner against this and believes that the civil rights of all citizens should be "defended and protected". An opinion delivered in November 2014 before the Constitutional Court, in a hearing on the legal battle over recognition of mixed marriages.

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