Indonesia: Transgender beauty workers forced to have 'masculine' haircuts in humiliating 're-education' programme

‘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’ - Usman Hamid

Reacting to the arrest and enforced hair cutting of 12 transgender people who worked in beauty salons in North Aceh province in Indonesia on Saturday, Amnesty Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid, said:

“The raids on beauty salons are just the latest example of the authorities arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are. Despite them having committed no crime, Aceh has become an increasingly hostile place for LGBTI people.

“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, inhumane and degrading treatment, in contravention of Indonesia’s international obligations. This is part of a long-standing pattern of harassing and discriminating against LGBTI people in the region that must stop immediately.

“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.”

All the transgender people were released on Sunday without charge. The local police chief told the media that they detained the transgender people for an “education” programme in order to make them “normal” men.

Background

Saturday’s arrests come just weeks after local people raided a hotel where a transgender beauty contest was taking place and handed six transgender people over to the police, claiming the contest violated Shari’a law.

In May last year, two men were caned 83 times each in public after being convicted by the Banda Aceh Shari’a Court of consensual same-sex sexual relations (liwath) under the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code. Shari’a bylaws have been in force in Aceh since the enactment of the province’s Special Autonomy Law in 2001, but this was the first time gay men had been caned in the province.

 

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