Indonesian police arrest 12 transgender women and shave their heads ‘to make them men’
Police have arrested 12 transgender people in Indonesia, shaved their heads and paraded them in front of the public.
Authorities also dressed the trans women in stereotypically male clothing, in an effort “to turn them into men”.
The raid was called “operasi penyakit masyarakat,” which translates as “community sickness operation”.
It was conducted on five salons in Aceh, where Shariah law is in effect, with both employees and customers among those detained, local news site Coconuts has reported.
Aceh is the only province in the Muslim-majority country to have Shariah law, having won this concession from the government as part of a 2005 autonomy deal.
North Aceh Regency Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said the 12 trans detainees were part of a “social disease” and had been taken to police headquarters, where they would be coached “until they really become men.”
He added that the trans people had had their heads shaved, made to dress in what the police considered men’s clothes, and forced into a series of demeaning exercises.
Untung said that “the officers also nurtured them by way of having them run for some time and telling them to chant loudly until their male voices came out.”
The police chief added that the operation was carried out to stop an increase in LGBT people in Aceh, which he said would be dangerous for the next generation of Indonesians.
“There were mothers who came crying to me, worried about their children,” he told Indonesian publication Kompas.
“This is not right, and we hope this social disease can be resolved.”
In a statement to Reuters, a Amnesty International spokesperson said the raid showed Aceh had become “an increasingly hostile place” for LGBT people.
“The latest raids on beauty salons are just the latest example of the authorities arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are,” Usman Hamid, of Amnesty International Indonesia, said.
“Cutting the hair of those arrested to ‘make them masculine’ and forcing them to dress like men are forms of public shaming and amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in contravention of Indonesia’s international obligations.”
The Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights has also condemned the arrests as extrajudicial and inhumane.
“All citizens deserve protection and to be treated equally,” commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara told the BBC.
“After seeing photos of the raid and the information we have received so far about the raid, it’s clear that they violated the police code of conduct.
“The job of the police should be to protect people, particularly the vulnerable.”
The 20 and 23-year-old, identified only by their initials – MH and MT – were the first to be sentenced to punishment for gay sex in the region.
The father of one of the men, who requested anonymity, said that he was unaware that his son was not straight before he was arrested.
“This is an ordeal for our family,” the father said.
“After this problem is resolved, we will send him to an Islamic boarding school to be educated so he won’t be deviant anymore.”
Amnesty International has repeatedly urged Indonesia to stop its horrific treatment of LGBT people in Aceh.
A report alleged that there had been attempts to ‘cover up’ the anti-LGBT oppression in the region by moving the floggings away from the public eye.
But it’s not just in Aceh where LGBT Indonesians suffer.
The caning punishment came the day after 141 men were arrested in Jakarta, the capital, for having a “gay sex party”.
And earlier that same month, eight men were arrested for holding a “gay party” in Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia.
It was also announced that the country’s government would clamp down on gay culture – instituting a ban on online “gay propaganda” after a request from the police.
Last year, Indonesian lawmakers gave the green light to a proposed law that would outlaw ‘LGBT behaviours’ on television.
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