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Turkey to Build Separate Prisons for Gay Criminals

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Apr 16, 2014

As if the idea of a Turkish Prison isn't horrifying enough, the government there now says they will build separate prisons for those criminals who declare themselves to be gay.

A recent the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced last weekend that plans were already underway to construct these separate facilities, to "protect convicts" with different sexual orientations. There's no indication as to who is being protected from whom.

"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. "Projects are underway for the construction of separate penitentiaries to house inmates with divergent sexual orientations."

Although same-sex relationships are not criminalized in Turkey -- a formally secular nation where prostitution and sex change operations are legal -- the society is largely Islamic, and holds onto traditional values.

Gay groups in Turkey are vocally opposing this segregation, noting that homosexuals are already effectively kept in solitary confinement.

"This is a medieval-age practice. This kind of segregation is nothing but a punishment" said Murat Koylu, a spokesman for the Ankara-based gay rights group Kaos GL, in a report in Digital Journal.

"Instead of creating public areas where people from all sexual orientations can live together, the government has once again chosen to ostracise homosexuals," said Koylu. "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?"

The Justice Ministry currently counts a total of 79 LGBT prisoners in Turkey, but that number is thought to be just a small fraction of the actual number, as most gay prisoners hide their sexual orientation while incarcerated.

This proposal may cause problems with Turkey's efforts to join the European Union; although the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has enacted some human rights reforms to boost their chances of being accepted, they do not recognize gay rights.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • Wayne M., 2014-04-18 23:01:34

    This all sounds too much like the "protective custody" that was given by the Nazis to LGBT persons. The question is whether other European nations (and everyone) will support the human rights of LGBT Turkish citizens - or will they be sacrificed on the altar of economic gain?

  • GAG'EM, 2014-04-18 23:11:08

    It could actually be an effort to protect LGBT prisoners. However, it would be more convincing if they protected the overwhelming majority of LGBT people who are not prisoners.

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