Indonesia's transgender Muslims find safe haven for prayer during Ramadan

A small Islamic school in Indonesia is providing a safe haven for the marginalised transgender community to pray during the holy month of Ramadan, its founder said on Thursday, calling for wider acceptance of LGBT+ people.

Muslims around the world are observing the month-long Ramadan - which began in early May - with fasting from dawn to dusk and extra prayers at mosques until the Eid al-Fitr celebrations in early June. Transgender people are often stigmatised when they pray in mosques, where women and men are segregated, said Shinta Ratri, who runs the Pesantren Waria al-Fatah school in the central Java city of Yogyakarta.

"We want to provide a safe space for the 'waria' because praying in mosques can feel very uneasy sometimes," said Ratri, using the Indonesian term which refers to transgender people.

"We can express ourselves freely here. We can observe Ramadan and pray together, it is important for us Muslims in the holy month," the 57-year-old transgender woman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. Read more via Openly