Turkey Now Wants to Build All Gay Prisons For 'Protection'

In Depth

The current administration heading Turkey has announced plans to house gay prisoners in yet to be built all gay prisons. Gay rights groups in the country have expressed concerns about further marginalising LGBT+ persons in a society generally hostile to homosexuality, and where gay prisoners are usually housed in solitary confinement.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag claims in the official statement the goal of these new prisons is the protection of prisoners of differing sexual orientations.

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.

Turkey is officially a secular nation. Homosexuality is not criminalised, and sex reassignment surgery is attainable for transgender individuals. However, conservative Islamic norms are observed by a significant portion of the population. Last year, there was disappointment among members of the LGBT+ community in Turkey when the parliament failed to pass hate crime legislation.

Murat Koylu, a spokesman for the gay rights organisation Kaos GL expressed dismay with the plan.

This is a medieval-age practice. This kind of segregation is nothing but a punishment…Instead of creating public areas where people from all sexual orientations can live together, the government has once again chosen to ostracise homosexuals…This will lead to the profiling of gay prisoners, as well as their families and the prison itself. How will the government be able to protect those prisoners who are not openly gay?

Koylu has excellent points, but the amount of violence suffered by gay or transgender prisoners when in a general population seems very high, and if the alternative to all gay prisons is isolation in solitary confinement… A hard decision.

Maybe Bozdag and his ministry ought to be figuring out ways to protect gay prisoners in a general population without placing them in further restriction not warranted by their crimes in order to “protect” them. All gay prisons might be a temporary way to slow the violence, but it shouldn’t be considered the solution.

Image via AP.

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