Police in Indonesia have arrested 10 women on suspicion of “deviant lesbian activity” and hosed down three transgender women to “cleanse” them, outraging human rights groups.
The group of ten people were arrested and detained on Sunday (November 4) in Padang, West Sumatra, on suspicion of “deviant lesbian behaviour.”
Head of police Pol Yadrison said in a statement that authorities had been monitoring the women’s activities on social media.
He said one of the women’s Facebook accounts showed a photo of her “kissing and cuddling” with another woman, as if they were an opposite sex couple.
“From this discovery, our officers conducted a search and managed to find the identity and whereabouts of the photo uploader,” Yadrison said.
The head of police added that authorities in Indonesia are currently receiving reports about suspected LGBT+ activities “almost every day.”
The municipal police made the arrest after people in Padang complained about the photo, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
Authorities said the ten people would be sent to a local social affairs agency to undergo an “education program” without elaborating further, Amnesty said.
A few days earlier, Indonesian authorities reportedly ordered a fire truck to hose down a trio of transgender women to cleanse them of their “impurity.”
The incident took place at a local tourist spot in the province of Lampung, northwest of Jakarta, on November 2.
VOA Indonesia reported that officers from the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) of Pesisir Barat Regency apprehended the three women before hosing them down in what they described as “mandi wajib,” an Islamic bathing ritual to remove one’s state of “impurity” associated with sexual intercourse.
Amnesty International said the ongoing crackdown against LGBTIQ people in Indonesia was “alarming” and the treatment of the women was cruel and inhuman.
“The humiliation of these three transgender women is appalling and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which is absolutely prohibited under international law,” said Usman Hamid, the organisation’s Indonesia executive director.
“Raiding people and using a fire truck to hose them down in public are totally unacceptable, as is any other act of violence and discrimination against transgender women or other LGBTI people.”
Hadid said the “vicious campaign” against LGBTIQ people in various areas of Indonesia and the country as a whole must immediately stop.
“This situation is alarming as the hateful abuses by law enforcement bodies against LGBTI people are seen as a normal practice by many people in Indonesia,” Usman Hamid explained.
“Some people even encourage the police and Satpol PP to carry out the arrests. The central government must take action to stop the crackdowns and order local administration to repeal all discriminatory regulations.
“Police officers should be instructed to protect LGBTI people who were persecuted for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, which are innate parts of a person’s identity and should not be criminalized.”
Hundreds of Indonesians arrested for being gay
Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia – with the exception of the conservative province of Aceh, which enforces its own Islamic Sharia law – but the country’s strict anti-pornography laws have been used to prosecute the LGBTIQ community.
Indonesia has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBTIQ people in recent years, forcing community members underground.
A number of gay parties, gyms and saunas in Indonesia’s major cities have been raided in the last 12 months, and hundreds of Indonesian men arrested.
Last month, police in Indonesia arrested and charged two men who they allege operated an LGBTIQ social page on Facebook.
In January this year, police raided beauty salons in Aceh province and shaved the heads of a group of transgender hairdressers and forced them to wear men’s clothes as part of their “coaching” to behave like “real men”.
In July, two men accused of having gay sex were publicly caned 87 times each in Aceh.
(Photo via Facebook)