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August 26, 2011

IconLesbian couple separated by force in Indonesia

Religious police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have released a lesbian couple from detention on the condition that they remain apart.

Nuraini and Rohani were arrested after it emerged that they had been secretly married in a ceremony overseen by a Muslim cleric. Rohani reportedly faked her identity by dressing as a man and using a male name.

“They were returned to their parents after they promised not to see each other again. If they violate the agreement, they will be given sanctions according to the customary law,” Southwest Aceh district religious police chief Muddatsir told the Jakarta Globe.

He added that the women – both reported to be in their early twenties – will now be closely ‘monitored’ and ‘guided’ by officials and religious leaders.

“We told them that they must be beheaded and burned and their ashes must be thrown away to the sea. We are actually allowed by our religion to kill them,” Muddatsir added. However, lesbian relationships are not regulated under the local Islamic bylaws.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia but LGBT rights are not protected by law. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people often experience harassment from government officials, police, and Islamic fundamentalist groups.

The situation is particularly severe in Aceh, where a number of conservative local governments have enacted anti-gay bylaws.

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