LGBT indonesia
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists hold a rally to mark International Women's Day in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 8, 2017. Getty

A YouTube video posted Sunday showed Indonesia’s North Aceh Police Chief Untung Sangaji denounce transgender people. He was addressing a crowd that had gathered after 12 transgender women, known as waria, were arrested in Aceh, which is a predominantly Muslim region.

Indonesian police, along with the Sharia police, arrested the transgender women, who were then forced to strip off their shirts and cut their hair in public to coach them into becoming "real men."

“Our ulama [Muslim scholars] disagree with this disease. [This disease] is spreading,” he said in the video. “It’s inhumane if Untung Sangaji is to tolerate these sissy garbage.”

Sangaji said he will work with the Sharia police and punish not only the transgender women but also any person patronizing their establishment. The arrest was spurred after he received several complaints from the Muslim clerics in the region.

Transgender women are fleeing the Sharia-ruled Indonesian province of Aceh amid fears of further violence, in the wake of a proposed law to criminalize homosexuality and extramarital sex.

Reza, an LGBT activist, who asked for his real name to be concealed told Guardian, “A lot of the salons have closed because of rumors that fundamentalists will raid them after Friday prayers, so they have temporarily closed down and evacuated – about 40 so far have left. … Waria are very easy to spot so I think they will stay away until things calm down.”

After the arrest of the 12 transgender women, scores of transgender people fled Aceh in terror of being subjected to a similar fate. Transgender women in Indonesia are often subjected to prejudice and violence.

A Criminal Code bill, presented in the parliament last week to regulate “immoral behavior,” was widely criticized by experts and activists from various institution, stating it invades the private lives of citizens.

According to the Jakarta Post, House of Representatives were deliberating the bill, which, among other things, would expand the definition of adultery and criminalize consensual sex between two unmarried persons.

The bill has the potential to include consensual relationship between same sex-couples to the list of “immoral behavior.” Legal protection available to the non-LGBT community isn’t extended to the same-sex couples in Indonesia.

Jentera School of Law lecturer Anugerah Rizki Akbari said “neither the government nor the House seemed to have a clear vision of what changes they wanted to make in the Criminal Code bill. … Who or what is protected by criminalizing consensual sex between unmarried people? Who is the victim here?”

The Sharia Police in Aceh have a history of targeting the LGBT community. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to have established a Sharia Law. According to the Sharia law, consensual relationships between same sexes is punishable by 100 lashes. The archaic law, though condemned by many, is still widely practiced in this region.

This is one of the many incidents where the Indonesian police have openly colluded with the Islamists to unjustly target the LGBT community. Last year, more than 300 LGBT people were apprehended in police raids across Indonesia, reports said.