Islam does not recognize transsexuals, much less a contest involving their community, the chief of the Indonesian Ulema Council said on Sunday.
“Our national law does not recognize the word transsexual or transgender. Islam only recognizes men and women,” Amidhan told the Jakarta Globe. But he said the council, also known as the MUI, would not make an issue out of transsexual pageants.
“If the contest is held for the purpose of entertainment, I believe we can tolerate that,” he said.
But Amidhan added that the MUI would not under any circumstances tolerate a contest that contained indications of pornography — particularly showing too much skin.
“If the contest allows its contestants to reveal their aurat [parts of the body that needs to be covered], it will be condemned as it is sinful,” Amidhan said. “Wearing bikinis and sexy attire is forbidden in Islam.”
He also pointed out that Islam did not support beauty contests. But he said considering the changing norms of modern culture, the ulemas would allow contests to be held with certain limitations.
“Look at the Abang None Jakarta Contest. Now, that is an example of a good contest since both the Abang and the None wear traditional costumes and are completely covered,” Amidhan said.
That beauty pageant involves candidates from all five districts of Jakarta, competing for the titles Abang and None, or Mister and Miss, in the local Betawi dialect, as ambassadors of tourism. Asked whether the MUI would issue fatwa regarding such beauty pageants, Amidhan declined to comment.
Yulianus Rettoblaut, the head of Forum of the Indonesian Transsexual Communication (FKWI) said the transsexual beauty pageant in Banda Aceh over the weekend showed there had been significant improvement in tolerance toward her community.
“More and more people are accepting us as a part of their community, and this is very special in Aceh, where Islamic law seems to be the driving force,” Yulianus said. “We hope this can mean that the stigma attached to being a transsexual is somewhat reduced.”
She said that her forum also jibed with religious teachings by doing social work.
“We are conducting prayers every Sunday for the Christians and a pengajian [Koran recital group] every Friday,” she said. “We can prove that we can do something for the society, just like anybody else.” Nurfika Osman