Police detain transgender women in Indonesia, ‘coach’ them to become ‘real men’
The controversial raid on beauty salons was staged by police in North Aceh late on Saturday. The goal of the operation, dubbed “Anti Moral Illness,” was to prevent an increase in the number of LGBT people in the area, according to the North Aceh Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata, who led the operation personally.
In total, five beauty salons were raided and 12 transgender women detained. At least one of the salons reportedly remains closed after the operation. “These transvestites will be getting coaching until they really become men,” the police chief said, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The official said his actions were approved by local ulama (Islamic clergy) and that those detained would also undergo drug tests.
The detained transgender women had their heads shaved and were given clothing supposedly appropriate for males. “In addition, 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.
When arresting trans women inside their salon, North Aceh police chief Untung Sangaji made a speech, “Our ulamas disagree with this disease. It’s spreading. It’s inhumane if Untung Sangaji is to tolerate these sissy garbages” https://t.co/cATBJGEqCr— Andreas Harsono (@andreasharsono) January 29, 2018
Footage of the police raid was posted online, purportedly showing the police chief addressing a distressed woman, presumably transgender, in front of a beauty salon. The video also contains stills, showing the detained women lying on the ground while their heads are shaved. RT was not able to independently verify the footage below, which some viewers might find disturbing.
The Aceh police operation drew criticism from Amnesty International. The human rights group condemned the “re-education” methods and urged the Aceh authorities to stop police brutality and hostile attitudes against the LGBT community.
“The police’s so-called ‘re-education’ of transgender people is not only humiliating and inhumane, it is also unlawful and a clear breach of their human rights. Such incidents must be promptly and effectively investigated,” Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said.
“In Aceh, it is not only transgender people who face harassment, intimidation and attacks – all LGBTI people are at serious risk of such treatment. Such attacks must be stopped immediately and authorities must treat all people in Aceh equally before the law. Police are there to protect everyone, not to humiliate them and violate their rights.”
Aceh is the most conservative province in Indonesia, with a predominantly Muslim population. The province enjoys a special status and has had the right to enforce sharia law alongside the national criminal code since the 2000s as part of a deal between the central government and local separatists.
While same-sex relationships are not considered a crime across Indonesia, the Aceh province criminalized them back in 2014. Last year, a gay couple was publicly caned for their “crimes” for the first time in Aceh. Police have also repeatedly conducted massive raids at suspected “gay parties” detaining large group of men.