Indonesia: Transgender Islamic school reopens its doors

Transgender people pray at the school in Yogakarta Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Transgender people pray at the school in Yogakarta

An Islamic transgender boarding school has been reopened in the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, it's reported.

The school, known locally as a Pesantren Waria, was the first of its kind in the country and first opened its doors in 2008 but closed when its founder died last month. It has now moved to a house belonging to Shinta Ratri, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist.

The 35 students learn Islamic studies, and have a chance to work and earn money, The Jakarta Post newspaper reported. Previously, the school had a beauty salon and also hired out traditional wedding dresses.

"According to the Koran, we are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values," Abdul Muhaimin, a leader of Indonesia's Brotherhood Forum of the Faithful, an organisation that encourages religious tolerance, said at the opening ceremony. "I hope the students here are strong as they must face stigma in society."

The Jakarta Globe has reported elsewhere that public opinion in Indonesia is strongly opposed to LGBT rights. It quotes the 2013 Global Divide on Homosexuality study by the Pew Research Center, which says 93% of people asked thought gay people should not be accepted.

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