Turkey’s new prison plans alarm homosexuals

The LGBT rights groups thought the decision would further extend discrimination in the largely homophobic country

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Turkish homosexual rights groups expressed alarm at a government-led project to build prisons only for criminals who declare themselves as homosexuals, saying it would lead to more discrimination in the country.

“This is a medieval-age practice. This kind of segregation is nothing but a punishment,” said Murat Koylu, a spokesman for the Ankara-based rights group Kaos GL.

“Instead of creating public areas where people from all sexual orientations can live together, the government has once again chosen to ostracize homosexuals,” he added.

Infographic: Turkey gay rights

Infographic: Turkey gay rights
Infographic: Turkey gay rights

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced the plan over the weekend, saying the prison would be built in a bid to “protect convicts” with a different sexual orientation.

“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,” Bozdag said in a written answer to a parliamentary question.

Turkey is a secular nation where prostitution and sex change operations are legal, as are same-sex relationships, however, homosexuals are effectively kept in solitary confinement in existing prisons, according to the justice ministry. Activists groups find that building a separate prison would only take discrimination a step further.

“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 said.

There is a total of 79 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) prisoners in Turkey, the number is thought to be much higher as most homosexuals do not declare their sexual orientation.

(With AFP)

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