A group of men burned a transgender woman to death last weekend in Indonesia, Reuters reports. However, they will be not be charged with murder.
Police, who identified six suspects and arrested three, say that while the men doused the 43-year-old woman in gasoline and set her on fire, they believe the suspects did not intend to kill her. The suspects could be charged with physical violence, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 years.
North Jakarta police chief Budhi Herdi Susianto confirms that the suspects doused the woman with gasoline after accusing her of stealing. One of the suspects lit a match, but the chief claims the man did not burn the victim intentionally.
“The police need take investigative actions that are impartial and independent,” says Usman Hamid, Indonesian representative of Amnesty International. “They can’t seem like the perpetrators’ lawyers.”
“Her death should be a reminder to many Indonesians that transgender women deserve justice and equal rights,” adds Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch researcher. “Thousands of transgender women, gay men or lesbian women have been humiliated in Indonesia these past few years.”
While homosexuality is technically legal in Indonesia, except in the semi-autonomous Aceh province governed by Sharia law, LGBTQ residents still face social censure throughout the country, as evidenced by multiple raids targeting gay men.
The Muslim-majority country has seen an increase of anti-LGBTQ statements from militant Islamic government and religious officials calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, as well as escalating anti-LGBTQ harassment and violence.
Indonesia’s trans community is locally known as “waria,” which combines the Indonesian words for “woman” and “man.”