Nearly a year after 140 gay men were arrested in a raid of an Indonesian “sex party,” police in Aceh have arrested 12 transgender women, shaved their heads, and forced them to wear men’s clothing.
BBC News reports that the transgender women will be held for three days in a “conversion therapy” process designed to “de-transition” and force them to act like men, putting all 12 at risk of further triggering their gender dysphoria.
“We are holding them for three days to give them counseling and coaching,” Ahmad Untung Surianata, a local police chief, said to the BBC. “It’s going well and now they are all acting like real men.”
The 12 transgender women were arrested in a police raid called “Operation Anti Moral Illness,” which was instigated from nearby neighbors claiming that transgender people had a “negative influence” on children, BBC News reports.
Aceh, which runs under provincial Shariah laws permitted by Indonesia, has become “increasingly conservative,” according to the BBC. And while it’s not necessarily illegal to be transgender, LGBTQ rights remain highly stigmatized and targeted by both local citizens and authorities.
Outside of Aceh, Indonesia has a varied LGBTQ history, and the Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights expresses support for the nation’s queer community. The commission has since criticized police and the raid, arguing that the 12 women did nothing illegal.
“After seeing photos of the raid and the information we have received so far about the raid, it’s clear that they violated the police code of conduct,” Commissioner Beka Ulung Haspara explained to BBC News. “The job of the police should be to protect people, particularly the vulnerable.”
“All citizens deserve protection and to be treated equally,” Haspara argued.