BANDA ACEH. Bieureun regency in Aceh has banned the employment of openly transgender people at beauty parlors, expressing concern about the influence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community on the youth.
The ban was issued through a letter from the regency’s sharia agency to the owners of beauty parlors, asking them not to employ LGBT people or face revocation of their business permits.
“It is a call to LGBT people and the beauty parlors’ owners,” agency head Jufliwan said on Friday.
Jufliwan said the letter asked transgender people to change their appearance, such as their clothes, if they wanted to continue their jobs according to their skills.
He said the regency was worried about the LGBT presence, fearing that they would affect to the behavior of the youth.
The letter alarmed transgender people, many of whom work at or own beauty parlors in the regency of the only province in the country that has implemented Islamic law.
“Working at beauty parlors is the only skill we have. If we are not allowed to work, what shall we do for a living?” Dina, a transgender at a beauty parlor, asked.
Dina said it was widely known that most beauty parlors in Aceh had transgender employees.
“There are many reasons why transgenders prefer to work at beauty salons. Aside from skills, many customers prefer to be handled by transgender staff,” she said.
She denied accusations that many employees and owners of beauty salons provided sex workers, saying the government tightly monitored the salons, making such practices impossible.
Beauty parlors operated by transgender people are often targeted in Sharia Police raids in some cities, including Banda Aceh.
Yuli, chairperson of the transgender group Arus Pelangi, expressed her regret over the ban, saying it amounted to discrimination.
“We do not have many job opportunities. This is too much. How can they just ban it?” Yuli said in Jakarta.
Meanwhile, Sandra Moniaga, a commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights, also criticized the ban, saying it violated the Constitution and human rights.
“The Home Ministry could cancel such regulations that conflict with higher regulations,” Sandra said.
Earlier this month, local authorities in Yogyakarta asked the management of Al Fatah Pesantren Waria, an Islamic boarding school for transgender people, to close the school due to pressure from an Islamic hard-line group.
However, after a brief closure, the management decided to continue operations at another location following the forced closure of the school’s religious education facility last week.
Pressure against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has been rising recently following controversy surrounding a gender and sexuality counseling group at the University of Indonesia. (Hotli Simanjuntak and Ahmad Junaidi)