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Indonesia's Constitutional Court says no to interfaith marriage

Coconuts Jakarta - January 31, 2023

Legally speaking, the state will continue to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman of the same religion, after the Constitutional Court (MK) today rejected a judicial review for interfaith marriage.

"The appellant's plea has entirely no legal ground," MK chief Anwar Usman said in a hearing in Jakarta today.

The appellant, in this case, is a Catholic citizen from Papua named Ramos Petange. Last year, in a bid to marry his Muslim girlfriend, he filed a judicial review with MK challenging Article 2 Verse 1 of the Marriage Law, which says that a marriage is valid "if conducted according to laws of religion and belief of both parties."

Ramos argued that faith shouldn't play a part in whether or not the state recognizes the union between two people, as religion is "the right between an individual and their God Almighty."

MK did not agree.

"The court is steadfast in its principle that a constitutionally legal marriage is one that is carried out in accordance with religious principles regarding marriage," Anwar said in the hearing.

With this decision, MK has rejected at least two judicial reviews for interfaith marriage on the grounds of preserving sanctity.

While minority religions in Indonesia may allow the practice, the mainstream belief among Indonesian Muslims is that interfaith marriage is forbidden. In fact, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest Islamic clerical body in the nation, issued a fatwa (religious edict) declaring interfaith marriage haram (forbidden) in 2005.

That's not to say interfaith couples haven't defied lack of legal recognition and stigma in order to get married in their own ways. Last year, for example, the pro-religious pluralism group Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) assisted in the marriage between a Catholic man and Muslim woman in Semarang, Central Java.

A couple of months after that, a court in Surabaya granted an interfaith couple their wish to have their marriage recognized – even if the decision wasn't made in the name of love.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesias-constitutional-court-says-no-to-interfaith-marriage