A gang of dozens of men have reportedly stripped, beaten and humiliated two transgender women in West Java in Indonesia this week.
The group of 50 to 60 men attacked the two victims with a metal rod on Monday night, forcing one of the women to remove her clothes before insulting her body and cutting her long hair, The Jakarta Post reported.
A local activist told the publication the victims had been chased away from a gathering of other transgender people, who are known as “waria”, by a gang of men on motorcycles. The men, reportedly aged from 14 to 25, parked their bikes and ran after them.
One of the alleged attackers asked one of the victims, who wore a shorter wig and presented as more masculine, “You are a man, right? And your friend is a banci [transgender]? Don’t you know that it’s a sin [to be transgender]?”
Other perpetrators allegedly told the two women, “There is no Allah for you,” and “You don’t deserve to have been born.”
After the group of men left, the two victims were comforted by onlookers but were reluctant to report the attack to the police.
Human rights groups have warned that regional Indonsesian authorities have ramped up anti-LGBTI rhetoric and activities ahead of elections next year.
Just days before the attack on the two trans women, the mayor of Padang in West Sumatra led thousands of city residents in an anti-LGBTIQ march on November 18 (pictured).
He organized the march to “reject” LGBTIQ Indonesians and “declare a sin-free Padang,” according to local media.
“To the perpetrators of sin, let them repent and those who protect them immediately be aware because they will face opposition from all parties and communities in Padang as well as security forces,” he said.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia but for the last three years, the country has been engulfed in “government-driven moral panic” over LGBTIQ people.
Throughout 2017, police across Indonesia raided saunas, nightclubs, hotel rooms, hair salons and private homes on suspicion that gay or transgender people were inside.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch called on Indonesian officials to take pre-emptive action against a resurgence in anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric and policy proposals in the country.
“Indonesian officials at all levels need to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination,” HRW’s Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono said.
“West Java’s governor, Ridwan Kamil, should unambiguously support the basic rights of all Indonesians, including LGBT people.”