Indonesian police investigate detention of transgender women in Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Indonesia's national police chief has ordered an investigation into the detention of 12 transgender women in the province of Aceh, officials said on Friday (Feb 2), after reports that they were stripped, beaten and forced to cut their hair before being released without charge.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, is the only province that enforces Islamic law and outlaws homosexuality. Religious police and vigilantes in the ultra-conservative province often raid homes and places of work and detain people on suspicion of engaging in homosexual activity.

"There were photos circulated that led us to suspect that there had been physical action taken against the suspects," Misbahul Munauwar, a spokesman for Aceh police, said. "The national police chief has instructed us to investigate those photos and to determine if there was any ... procedural or ethical violation." A national police spokesman confirmed that police chief Tito Karnavian had ordered the investigation.

Dozens of protesters on Friday staged an anti-LGBT rally outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh. "We don't hate gay, bisexual or transgender people. What we hate is their actions, and if we can prove their actions, they will be punished," Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf told the small crowd.

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