Indonesian police in the conservative Aceh province launched a horrific crackdown on its LGBTQ+ community earlier this week, Channel News Asia reported

After raiding several beauty salons located in the region on Sunday, police "forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women and made them wear male clothing." 

In their statement on the matter, officials accused the employees of violating the province's strict Islamic religious laws, claiming they had teased a group of young boys. 

Police issue homophobic statements to excuse their actions

Amid the global backlash against the crackdown, Aceh's police chief Ahmad Untung Surianata spoke to AFP and tried to justify the incident. 

"We have reports from mothers that their sons were teased by the transgender women," he said.

"Their numbers are growing here - I don't want that. We want to change their mentality so they can be better people," he added.

The transgender individuals are set to be detained for several days and will be forced to undergo a five-day "training" regimen.

According to police officials, the program aims to teach those detained to walk and speak in a more "manly" way. As part of it, the transgender individuals will also be forced to attend "moral classes" taught by local clerics.

Homosexuality is illegal in Aceh

According to Channel News Asia, "Aceh on Sumatra island has been ruled by Islamic law since it was granted special autonomy in 2001 - an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency." 

Homosexuality and gay sex are legal everywhere in Indonesia except in the ultra-conservative province.

But this isn't to say that homosexuals don't face persecution and wide-spread discrimination across the country. 

Indonesian police often use Indonesia's strict "anti-pornography legislation to criminalize members of the LGBT community and there have been a recent string of arrests."

Prejudice against transgender people has always been an issue in Indonesia and the discrimination is even more severe in Aceh, where strict punishment, including flogging, are commonly imposed on anyone accused of violating religious rules. 

Rights groups label the latest crackdown 'appalling'

News of the latest crackdown on transgenders in Aceh is now making headlines all around the world. 

Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have since condemned the inhumane action against members of Aceh's LGBTQ+ community. 

In his statement on the matter, the Amnesty International's Executive Director in Indonesia, 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."