Transgender women arrested in Aceh, police shave their heads

Indonesian media has reported that twelve transgender women have been arrested in Northern Aceh.

Early on Sunday morning Sharia Police reportedly arrested the transgender women, who are known locally as waria – a portmanteau of the Indonesian words for man and woman.

The women were detained as part of a police operation labeled operasi penyakit masyarakat, which translates as ‘community sickness operation’. 

North Aceh Regency Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said the waria were secured at five salons spread across Lhoksukon and Pantonlabu districts and included both workers and visitors.

Police forced the women to remove their feminine clothing, and shaved their heads. The Police Chief said those arrested would be coached on how to be more masculine which reportedly included sessions involving running and shouting to develop more masculine voices.

Chief Untung told local media that those arrested would be kept in police custody “until they really become men.”

The police said they had conducted the operation to stop the next generation of Indonesians from becoming gay, lesbian, and transgender.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, except in the province of Aceh – which operates under Sharia Law.

Traditionally transgender people have been more widely accepted in Indonesian society that people who are gay, but growing conservatism across the country has seen gay, lesbians and transgender people being targeted under a number of laws.

Last week the country’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said there is no religion that tolerates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

His comment was a reaction to a suggestion that some political parties in the country might be in favour of supporting LGBI rights. Earlier, Zulkifli Hasan, the Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly had suggested that there were up to five factions in the House of Representatives that supported LGBT rights, something that all the major political parties quickly denied.

A push by a conservative group to criminalise homosexuality was recently rejected by the courts, but across the country there continue to be raids on establishments where gay people meet. Often people are charged under the country’s vague anti-pornography laws, which have seen people sentenced to years imprisonment.

Last week two men were arrested in West Java for allegedly making a pornographic video. The men were detained in the city of  Depok in relation to a video that was uploaded to the internet in June 2017.

Depok Police Chief Inspector Sutrisno said the men made the video to promote their services as sex workers on social media including Twitter.

The Police Chief said the men had been arrested a detained but had not yet been charged because police will still investigating their case. The men were accused of using social apps to promote to find sexual partners. Potentially they could face jail terms of up to twelve years.

Indonesian police have admitted that they use social media apps to track down gay people, and then use the country’s anti-pornography laws to arrest those people that officers interact with.

The same week five men were arrested in West Java for taking part in a ‘gay sex party’, the men potentially face prison sentences of a decade, for creating pornography.

Image: Police shave the hair of women arrested for being transgender. OUTinPerth has obscured the image to protect the women’s identity. 

OIP Staff


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