Acehnese Gays Face a Climate of Fear and Abuse

Published: August 18, 2010

Banda Aceh. It doesn’t take much to notice “Echa,” a transvestite who lives in Banda Aceh. With his masculine figure and flamboyant make-up, he instantly draws attention.

And so does the fact that he is wearing a short dress with a plunging neckline to one of the city’s popular coffee houses instead of a headscarf and other conservative Muslim attire. Of course, Echa is a man so he poses a dilemma for the morality police.

His baritone laugh echoed through the coffee shop when a reporter asked about the absence of a headscarf. “The Shariah Police are confused about what they want to do with me. I am enjoying my freedom,” he said.

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