A crackdown against the LGBTQ community in Indonesia saw a group of transgender women forced to wear male clothing and local authorities forcibly cutting their hair.
On Sunday, Indonesian police reportedly raided multiple beauty salons in the conservative Aceh, a province on Sumatra Island ruled by Islamic law after being granted special autonomy in 2001.
Several transgender employees were rounded up over allegations of “teasing” a group of boys. The officers claimed that such acts violated the province’s religious laws, according to the Agence France-Presse.
A crowd of locals in the vicinity also tried to attack the arrested beauticians as they were being escorted to the police station. The officers were reportedly able to push the angry mob back.
However, at the station, the police forcibly cut the beauticians’ long hair with scissors before forcing them to speak in a masculine voice and wear male clothing.
“We have reports from mothers that their sons were teased by the transgender women,” local police chief Ahmad Untung Surianata was quoted as saying.
“Their numbers are growing here — I don’t want that.”
According to the police, the transgender women would be detained at the station for several days before being subjected to a five-day “training” program meant to make them more “manly.” They will also be given “morals teaching” by the local clerics.
“We want to change their mentality so they can be better people,” Surianata added.
Gay rights activist Hartoyo, however, dubbed such violence against LGBTQ people as “barbaric.”
“It’s very strange that officers (in Sunday’s incident) would arrest innocent people and cut off their hair,” Hartoyo said.
It is important to note that while homosexuality and gay sex are legal in the rest of Indonesia, local authorities in Aceh have been using the country’s strict anti-pornography laws to justify prosecution of the members of the LGBTQ community.