Aceh Governor Aceh Irwandi Yusuf has spoken at a rally by Islamic organizations (ormas) supporting the actions of North Aceh regency police chief Assistant Superintendent Untung Sangaji who ‘retrained’ 12 transgender women (waria) in North Aceh recently.
Irwandi, who arrived at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh at around 3pm on Friday February 2, was immediately greeted by the crowd and invited to alight onto a vehicle to give a speech.
“We cannot find fault in the North Aceh district police chief, because I brought Untung (AKBP Untung Sangaji) to Aceh”, he said to shouts of “God is Great” by the crowd.
Irwandi also addressed the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Aceh. According to Irwandi, no one hates LGBT people but it is their behaviour that perhaps is not liked in certain parts of Aceh.
“We don’t care who a person is, but what we don’t like is their behaviour, and if we find these people then they will be subject to the law”, said Irwandi.
Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) speaker Muharuddin, who also took part in the action, said that the Acehnese government strongly condemns deviant behaviour which creates unease in society. “In general these LGBT people give rise to negative sentiment”, he said.
Muharuddin also conveyed his support for Untung who he said acted correctly in curbing LGBT groups in North Aceh regency.
“It is fitting that we give our appreciation to this kind of courage, and Pak Untung was not wrong. If there are protests by outside parties then they don’t know what Aceh is like”, he asserted.
The twelve transgender women were arrested as part of a Social Disease Operation (Pekat) on January 27. They were then “retrained” by having their heads shaved, ordered to do pushups, shout Pancasila [the state ideology] out loud and made to wear men’s clothing.
“They have now truly returned to normal again. They have become masculine and strong men [again]”, said Untung when speaking with Kumparan (kumparan.com) on Wednesday January 31.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Gubernur Aceh Sebut Aksi AKBP Untung ‘Bina’ 12 Waria Tak Salah.]