Indonesian police have raided beauty salons in Aceh province and shamed a group of transgender hairdressers.
The women had their heads shaved and were forced to wear men’s clothes in what police say was part of their “coaching” to behave like “real men”.
Local Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata told the BBC: “We are holding them for three days to give them counselling and coaching. It’s going well and now they are all acting like real men.”
He said his team had carried out the raid, dubbed “Operation Anti Moral Illness”, after neighbours complained about the “negative influence” the transgender community could have on their children.
In addition, the officers nurtured them by way of having them run for some time and telling them to chant loudly “until their male voices came out”.
The Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights has condemned the raids, saying the police acted outside the law and their actions were inhuman.
“All citizens deserve protection and to be treated equally,” Commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara told the BBC.
“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.
“The job of the police should be to protect people, particularly the vulnerable.”
Human rights group Amnesty International Indonesia also slammed the police’s “inhumane” treatment of the transgender women, and called for all Indonesians to be treated equally under the law.
“The latest 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,” Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s ten main political parties have agreed on a new criminal code that will make it much easier to prosecute gay sex as well as sex between unmarried straight couples.
One of the politicians who has helped draw up the criminal code is Arsul Sani, the secretary general of the PPP Party.
“It applies to people of the same gender who have sex, which is basically a forbidden act,” he said.
“It’s considered the same as adultery, where men and women having sex outside marriage can be considered a crime.”
While the draft criminal code has been agreed upon, turning it into legislation could take a year or longer.