Shannon Power, Aceh – the only province in Indonesia to rule with Islamic Sharia Law – has furthered its clampdown on the LGBTI community, this time banning trans women from working in hair salons.
Working in hair salons is one of the few sources of income for trans women. In Indonesia, trans women are are also known as waria.
The district of Aceh Bersa, which includes the local capital Banda Aceh, issued the ordered on Friday 9 February. The order stated that any beauty business owned by a waria or employed warias would face a penalty.
'The circular is true, and soon we will meet with all district heads to pull together data on salons in Aceh Besar,' said Aceh Besar chief, Ali Mawardi. 'If we find that [a salon] employs waria, we will pull its permit.'
Mawardi also told Kumparan that his local government prohibited any actions or behaviors that contravened the province's Sharia Law. He included being LGBTI as an illegal activity in Aceh.
His order came a day before a public seminar was held in Aceh to warn people of the looming dangers coming from the LGBTI community.
Aceh Besar was in the news recently after Mawardi ordered all female Muslim flight attendants to wear hijabs when flying into the province.
Aceh's history of LGBTI persecution
The conservative Islamic province has been one of the worst perpetrators in Indonesia's increasing persecution of the LGBTI community. Last year it became the first place in Indonesia to cane men for being gay.
The two men aged in their early twenties were charged with homosexuality and sodomy. Their public caning – in which they received 82 lashes – drew international condemnation.
Trans women have also been the target of authorities in Aceh. In December last year, a group of waria were followed by vigilantes and then detained by police without explanation after attending a birthday party. They were released the following day.
Earlier this year in a incident that may have prompted the waria hair salon ban, 12 trans women were rounded up from five different hairs salons.
They had their hair forcibly shaved and were made to wear men's clothes. Police remanded them in custody to train them into behaving like men again, including shouting until they sounded like men. The women were released a few days later on the condition they lived like men.
Late last week, one of the province's federal politicians, Muslim Ayub, called for the death penalty or life in jail for LGBTI people.