Police detain transgender women to 'coach' them until they become 'real men'

Aaron Brown
February 1, 2018

A group of Muslim protesters march with banners against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Banda Aceh on December 27, 2017.

Police in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province carried out a crackdown on a group of transgender women Sunday, forcibly shaving their heads and making them wear men's clothing.

This incident took place just weeks after local people and mass organizations raided a hotel and handed over six transgender people on 17 December 2017 to law enforcement agencies after they received information that a transgender beauty contest was taking place, an act they claimed violated Shari'a law in Aceh.

As they were taken to the police station, the transgender employees were apparently approached by dozens of locals who tried to attack them. The police also cut their hair and forced them to wear men's clothes during the raids.

"Their numbers are growing here - I don't want that", he added.

The transgender women would be detained for several days followed by a five-day "training" regimen including efforts to make them walk and speak in a more "manly" way, as well as "morals teaching" by local clerics, police said.

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The so-called operation was condemned by the Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights and human rights group Amnesty International. Indonesia consists of the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, with Aceh province being ruled by Islamic law since 2001.

On 27 January, police in North Aceh arrested 12 transgender people and closed down five beauty salons where they work after local people complained about their activities.

Surianata said the operation had been part of a campaign to prevent LGBT people from "adversely affecting" Indonesia's next generation.

With the exception of Aceh, consensual same-sex relations are not treated as crimes under the Indonesian Criminal Code. Prejudice against trans people, while widespread across the country, is particularly acute in the province.

Even in the capital Jakarta - once a relatively safe space - police have carried out a series of raids on bars popular with the LGBT community, and jailed gay men caught in them under the country's controversial pornography laws.

Since 2015 there have been raids on gay saunas, calls for the criminalization of homosexuality and statements made by prominent politicians about the evils of LGBT rights, with one saying it was more risky to Indonesia than "nuclear war".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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