A transgender woman may be subjected to a punishment of 100 lashes in Indonesia’s most rabidly anti-LGBTQ province after being arrested for allegedly having sex in a hair salon.
Law enforcement in Banda Aceh claim the arrestee, who is only identified as “M” in news reports, was paid 100,000 rupiah for the intimate encounter (which amounts to a little more than $6 in the U.S.). Local residents claim the Emperum salon was frequently used as a “same-sex dating site” by members of the LGBTQ community.
“It caused unrest in the neighborhood,” Public Order Agency Chief Evendi A. Latif told The Jakarta Post.
People who claim to have witnessed the carnal interaction made a citizens’ arrest, dragging the accused down to the local police station along with the man who allegedly solicited her. Both have denied the allegations.
If the transgender woman is found guilty, she faces up to 100 lashes under Article 26 of Qanun Jinayat, the province’s Sharia codes. The semi-independent province of Aceh, which has been allowed to enforce its own laws separate from the national government, is the only regional authority to enforce Sharia law.
The alleged incident is only the most recent arrest of trans individuals in Indonesia following a harsh crackdown on its LGBTQ population.
In January, police raided hair salons in Aceh and arrested at least 12 transgender women working in the parlors. As they were being led away by law enforcement, local residents reportedly pleaded with officials to “oust them,” “burn them,” and “kill them.”
After their arrest, police took the women to a nearby park, where Amnesty International reports they forced the detainees to strip naked and undergo a “mock military training” in front of a crowd of onlookers. When one of the women begged the officers to shoot her and let her die with “dignity,” he allegedly responded, “You as a transgender do not have the right to have dignity.”
The arrestees would subsequently be forced into a conversion therapy program. Over a three- to five-day period, the 12 women were coached on how to act like men. They were forced to wear masculine clothing and their heads were shaven.
Amidst conflicting reports of trans women being banned from hair salons, the government is considering a proposal to implement beheadings in its enforcement of Sharia law.
Syukri M. Yusuf, head of the Acehnese Shariah Law and Human Rights Office, told reporters this week that the agency is researching whether the use of decapitation in death penalty casessuch as murderhas a “deterrent effect” on immoral behavior.
“A strict punishment is made to save human beings,” Yusuf said. “We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed.”
Although being gay or transgender isn’t a death penalty offense in Aceh, two men were publicly flogged more than 83 times after being accused of same-sex intercourse last year. The national government of the Muslim-majority nation is currently considering legislation to criminalize homosexuality with a punishment of up to five years in prison.
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