Justice minister announces exclusive prisons for LGBTs, sparking debate
LGBT rights NGO, Kaos GL, had said in a study that the choice of revealing sexual orientation should be left to the inmate.Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced that a project to build exclusive prisons for gays is underway, sparking concern that such a measure will lead to profiling and expose LGBT individuals to more discrimination.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Veli Ağbaba, Bozdağ said the new measure was intended at “protecting convicts” by separating them according to their sexual orientation.
He said convicts who stated that they are gay will not mix with other convicts in the communal area or during social activities in the new prison facilities.
CHP Malatya deputy Ağbaba, who submitted the question after visiting LGBT inmates, said their point of view must be taken into consideration before any new practice was enforced.
“What is most urgent for LGBT individuals is to improve current prison conditions and end their ‘isolation within isolation,’” Ağbaba said, warning against the new proposals.
“Such a measure will also mean revealing inmates’ sexual orientation. That’s why a thorough work is needed prior to this,” he added.
The only extensive study on the question of LGBT inmates was carried out by the Kaos GL organization in 2008. The study had stressed that lack of knowledge about the LGBT individuals’ needs prevented the implementation of adequate policies to improve their conditions, particularly emphasizing that medical controls and other routine procedures were traumatic for some inmates.
Kaos GL gave specific policy recommendations in the report, particularly underlining that the choice of revealing sexual orientation should be left to the inmate and this must not become an obligation.
Meanwhile, A majority of the LGBT individuals are effectively being held in solitary confinement, and are not allowed to join activities with other prisoners, the Justice Ministry has revealed in a report on July 2013.
The ministry stated that there were a total of 79 LGBT individuals currently in prison, eight in custody, 71 convicted. However, the real number is arguably higher, since sexual orientation can be identified only when expressed. According to the ministry’s answer, when prisoners declare themselves as LGBT prior to entry into penitentiary, they are asked for a health report and put into wards with those in the same situation.