Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Rights groups decry trans shaming in Indonesia’s Aceh

Reuters, JAKARTA

Rights groups on Tuesday condemned the actions of religious police in Indonesia’s conservative province of Aceh, where a dozen transgender people were detained at hair salons over the weekend and “publicly shamed.”

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, but Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, is the only province that enforces Islamic law and outlaws homosexuality.

Religious police and vigilantes in Aceh often raid homes and places of work and detain people on suspicion of engaging in homosexual activity.

Police in North Aceh District confirmed the raids and detentions of 12 transgender people after residents complained their children were being harassed, the national daily Kompas said.

“There were mothers who came crying to me, worried about their children,” district Police Chief Ahmad Untung told the paper. “This is not right, and we hope this social disease can be resolved.”

The suspects were forced to cut their hair to look more “masculine” and were later released without charge, media said.

Rights group Amnesty International said the raid showed Aceh had become “an increasingly hostile place” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

“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 in a statement.

“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,” Hamid added.

The provincial and central governments last year drew international condemnation after Aceh authorities tried two young men on charges of engaging in gay sex and then publicly caned them.

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