Shinta Ratri, Indonesian LGBT+ rights icon, dies at 60

Jakarta, Feb 1 (EFE).- Indonesian activist Shinta Ratri, who fought for the rights of LGBT+ people in her country, died Wednesday according to information from activist organizations. She was 60.

The NGO GAYa NUSANTARA confirmed Ratri’s death, a trans Muslim woman herself, without further details about her death.

“Our condolences (…) may you be reunited with God,” the organization said on its official Instagram account, next to a photo of Ratri.

The activist was one of the most influential voices in favor of LGTBI rights, especially transgender people, in Indonesia, and is the founder of the only Quranic school for the Islamic LGTB+ community in Yogyakarta, known as Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah.

Last year, Ratri was awarded Spain’s Casa Asia 2022 Awards, which since 2004 have recognized and disseminated the work of individuals and entities, both public and private, that promote knowledge, dialogue and relations between Spain and the Asia-Pacific region.

The news of Ratri’s death rocked the LGTB+ community and activists, who paid tribute and praised her work.

“Shinta Ratri, human rights activist, pioneering transgender Muslim in Indonesia, and director of an Islamic school for transgender women in Yogyakarta, passed away today. May her soul be blessed and her struggle be continued by others,” activist and academic Anmar Alfikar wrote on Twitter.

In her career as an activist, Ratri stood up to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism seen in recent years in Indonesian politics, where almost 90 percent of the more than 260 million people are Muslims and practice a moderate version of Islam.

In addition to the 2022 Casa Asia Awards, Ratri received the Front Line Defenders Award in 2019 in honor of her dedication and courage as a human rights activist, work that led to attacks and assaults on her, including a violent assault in 2016 that forced the closure of the school for a short period.

About 40 students are currently enrolled in the Al Fatah school, where they are taught prayers and understanding of the Quran, among other subjects, and which serves as a safe space for trans women to exercise their right to religious worship. EFE


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