Bangladesh opened the first Islamic school for transgender Muslims on Friday, which clergy called it the first step in integrating the discriminated minority into society.
Madrasa is one of a recent series of moves in Bangladesh to ease the lives of up to 1.5 million transgender people in a Muslim-dominated country.
The LGBT community faces widespread discrimination in South Asian countries, and although enforcement is rare, colonial legislation that punishes gay sex in prison is still in force.
However, about 50 transgender students read Koran poems, indicating that the Dawatur Islamic Tritium Ringer Madrasa, or Islamic Third Gender School, opened on the outskirts of the capital on Friday.
“I’m ecstatic,” Shakila Akhter, a 33-year-old student, told AFP.
“We thank the priests for this beautiful movement.”
Actors were born as girls and always wanted to be doctors and attorneys, but their ambitions were hampered when she left home to join a transgender commune while she was still a kid. ..
“We are Muslims, but we can’t go to the mosque,” Actel said. “We can’t even mix with other members of society.”
A group of priests, led by Abdur Rahman Azad, turned the top floor of a three-story building into a school, funded by a local charity.
The Azad team has already offered Koran lessons to seven transgender groups in Dhaka, saying Madrasa was born out of the need for a permanent base for the community.
Up to 150 students (almost all adults) take lessons similar to traditional madrasas where the Quran is taught with Islamic philosophy, Bengali, English, math and social sciences.
Azad said transgender people known as Hijra are suffering too much in Bangladesh.
“They have lived a miserable life for a long time. They cannot go to schools, madrasas and mosques. They were victims of discrimination. We, society and the nation must blame this.” He said.
“We want to end this discrimination. Allah does not discriminate against people. Islam treats everyone as human. Hijri should enjoy all rights like any other human being.”
In 2015, Islamic extremists hacked and killed LGBT magazine’s leading gay activists and editors, after which other prominent homosexuals fled the country.
But there has been progress for the community. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has allowed transgender to be identified as another gender since 2013.
Last year, they were allowed to register to vote as a third gender, and their number will be counted in the 168 million census conducted nationwide next year.
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