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World first mosque for transgenders openes in Bangladesh

New Delhi

Bangladesh has opened what can be called the world’s first exclusive mosque for transgender people, also called the third gender. The mosque called the Dakshin Char Kalibari Masjid is located in Mymensingh.

This is a big step in acknowledging the rights of the LGBTQ community in an Islamic country. Reports said transgender often called Hijras would be thrown out from mosques and hence this place is a boon for them.

The mosque is a humble structure — a single-room shed with walls a tin roof and bare ground to pray. However, rights activists say though Bangladesh’s law treats them as equal citizens society continues to discriminate against them.

According to an AFP report, community leader Joyita Tonu told the assembled members of his community, “From now on, no one can deny a hijra from praying in our mosque.”

The government donated the land for this mosque after Hijras were thrown out of mosques and not allowed to pray. It is located on the banks of the River Bramhaputra north of Dhaka and close to the Mymensingh.

“I never dreamt I could pray at a mosque again in my lifetime,” said Sonia, 42, who as a child loved to recite the Koran and studied at an Islamic seminary, reported AFP. However, when her gender became known to others, she was blocked from praying in a mosque.

“People would tell us: ‘Why are you hijra people here at the mosques? You should pray at home. Don’t come to the mosques,’” Sonia, said.

Like India, Bangladesh has given the rights to the community to identify as the third gender for all legal and official purposes. A law to this effect was passed in 2013.

Bangladesh even has a transgender woman elected mayor.

The mosque also have a cemetry which was necessary to have after the incident of mosque committee not permitting burial of a transgerder woman in a graveyard last year.

This is despite the Islamist groups lashing out at the government for giving recognition to the transgender community and incorporating lessons on this in the school textbooks. Their members have taken out rallies to demand the deletion of chapters on transgenders from the curriculum.

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The funds for the mosque were raised through donations by the community members.hap

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