A protest against LGBT+ rights in Banda Aceh, Indonesia (Adli Dzil Ikram/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty)
A vicious mob who doused a trans woman in petrol and burned her alive will not face murder charges, Indonesian police have confirmed.
The 42-year-old woman, named locally as Mira, was set upon by a gang of thugs for allegedly stealing a truck driver’s phone and wallet.
When the mob was unable to find any of the possessions she was accused of stealing, they beat her, poured two litres of gasoline on her, and burned her alive. She died in hospital a day later on Sunday.
As international human rights groups called for justice, Indonesian police declared they would not be bringing murder charges because they believe the suspects who set the fire had not burned the trans woman intentionally.
Six suspects have been identified, three of whom had been arrested. North Jakarta police chief Budhi Herdi Susianto acknowledged that one of them lit a match but said they did not mean to burn her.
This was questioned by Usman Hamid, the Indonesian representative of Amnesty International, who told Reuters it seemed too early for the police to conclude that there was no intent to set the woman on fire.
“The police need take investigative actions that are impartial and independent. They can’t seem like the perpetrators’ lawyers,” he said.
Rather than being charged with murder it is thought the suspects could instead be charged with physical violence, which carries a maximum sentence of just 12 years.
Andreas Harsono, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the incident was indicative of a rise in hostility and vilification of the LGBT+ community.
“Her death should be a reminder to many Indonesians that transgender women deserve justice and equal rights,” he said.
The Muslim-majority country is becoming increasingly intolerant towards gay rights, with the newly-elected vice president, Ma’ruf Amin, supporting the criminalisation of LGBT+ people.
While homosexuality is technically still legal in Indonesia, discrimination against LGBT+ people is widespread and it recently emerged that several Indonesian ministries have issued an outright ban on LGBT+ applicants.
Earlier this year an Indonesian mayor asked authorities to conduct ‘LGBT raids’ on rented houses, apartments, and dorms to stop what he called ‘immoral’ acts.
He labelled his campaign a “prevention toward the spread of LGBTI” in his city.