Maltepe Prison

Brazilian Trans Inmate in Turkey: “I live like a dog”

Brazilian trans inmate’s cell protest in Maltepe prison: “I am victimized here and isolated.” 

Source: Damla Yur, “Köpek gibi yaşıyorum,” (“I live like a dog”), Cumhuriyet, 2 September 2015,

There are 79 LGBTI individuals in prison according to the data collected by the Ministry of Justice. 71 of these individuals have been convicted of crimes and 8 are detainees. While LGBT individuals are held, respectively, in groups 9 or 3 in maximum and minimum penal institutions, in five prisons they are being held in single cells.  As subjects of isolated detainment, they are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse.  

LGBTI individuals who are foreign nationals struggle with similar problems in Turkish prisons. The victimization experienced in Maltepe Prison was documented in a letter sent to the LGBT in Prison Group organized under the umbrella of the NGO Civil Society in the Penal System.

The Brazilian trans inmate penned the victimization they endured in a letter dated August 27, 2015:

I am still in a cell, I cannot go to the ward. I went to the director but they told me there is no ward. We are held separately in individual cells. The cells are horrible, I cannot bear it. They are very dirty. They are holding us in cells. Maltepe No. 3 [prison] is not suitable for us, we need to go back to No. 1. I am victimized here and isolated. I would like to be with my Turkish gay friends. Still no response from the Ministry of Justice. Foreign men are free to do things. We, on the other hand, are kept in cells. Believe me, I live like a dog. No table, no television, no chair, nothing. I eat on the floor. My morale is gone. I do not know how much more I can bear this. It is very bad indeed. Even a dog would not be able to stay here. I am very distressed, I am dying.”

“Kaos GL is obscene, cannot be allowed in prisons”

At the same time, due to the recent increase in banned media in prisons, 21 NGOs penned a public statement titled, “Arbitrary bans on media in prisons must stop!” The statement noted that Leman, Uykusuz and Penguen were banned in Kandıra No.1 F type prison on account of being “objectionable,” Kaos GL journal was banned in Bafra T type closed prison because of its obscene content, and copies of Volçark, an edited volume that compiles the stories of LGBTI inmates, was rejected by the prisons they were sent to.

Rights Organizations in Turkey: End the Unjust Suffering of LGBTI Prisoners

Twenty-eight LGBTI and human rights organizations* released a statement regarding the isolation of trans women who are not Turkish citizens at Maltepe Prison and demanded that the prisoners’ suffering be ended by bringing them together again.

Source: “Hak Örgütleri: LGBTİ Mahpusların Mağduriyetini Giderin” (“Rights Organizations: End the Unjust Suffering of LGBTI Prisoners”), Bianet, 14 July 2015,

Twenty-eight LGBTI and human rights organizations released a statement related to the transfer of non-Turkish-citizen trans women at Maltepe Prison to another prison on the same campus.

Addressing the Ministry of Justice’s General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses, the rights organizations requested that these prisoners be reunited and that an end be put to their unjust suffering.

The organizations’ statement is as follows:

In June, twenty-one LGBTI prisoners in the Maltepe Type-L Penal Institution Number 2 were transferred to the Maltepe Type-L Penal Institution Number 1. Later LGBTI prisoners from Turkey and non-citizen trans woman prisoners were separated from one another and five prisoners were brought to the Maltepe Type-L Penal Institution Number 3.

In light of this situation, the LGBTI prisoners from Turkey and the foreign trans woman prisoners wrote letters criticizing the transfers and sent them to civil society organizations.

The prisoners indicated that there was no separation among themselves, as from Turkey or as foreigners, and that the prisoners who did not receive money from outside could rely on the help of the other prisoners to meet their needs, but said that following the transfers this solidarity had disappeared and that they had been made to suffer.

Most notably, one Azerbaijani and four Brazilian trans women prisoners who were transferred to Penal Institution Number 3 express that they can no longer meet any of their needs. They also wrote that until some of the Turkish and foreign trans woman prisoners are brought together again they will go on hunger strike:

‘We had been living with them for about four years. After all, all of us are homosexual [sic]. Currently we are on hunger strike. We are suffering a lot here. The Turkish homosexuals [sic] were giving us financial and moral support. I am doing very badly now. I am on hunger strike, and my strike will continue until I return to my Turkish friends. If it goes on like this I am going to die here; I want you to help me. There are four of us. I want you to help us reunite with the Turkish homosexuals [sic].’

‘We LGBTI individuals were brought from L-Type Number 2 to here, Number 1. As a matter of fact, before our Brazilian friends who we lived with could stay with us for even ten days, they came to take them saying that because they were foreigners they would be transferred to Number 3. And now a letter from Rafael Q. Alves De Souza has come to me. She expressed that her situation was dire, that because of her location she had been assimilated and that she needed my help, and that she could not eat and was in very poor mental state. She stated that the Consulate had not come to see her [or her compatriots] and that they could not reach them. Additionally, we had been sharing a common fate as a dormitory, staying in the same one together for two and a half years. We used to help her communicate with her family. The economic and social aspects [of our life here] were based on our unity and we are very upset by this now. We are prepared to do whatever we need to do. This situation has worn us out too and our mental wellbeing has broken down.’

‘We were twenty-one prisoners, now we are sixteen. We were already living completely isolated from the others for safety reasons. Between the twenty-one of us fighting and making peace we had created a world. Now our world is even smaller. Please explain this to the Ministry; we are small in number and alone, do not let them separate us more and leave us on our own. Have them return [our friends] to us again.’

When the characteristics of prisons are considered it is understood that the foreign trans prisoners were brought to Maltepe Type-L Department of Corrections Number 3 so they could be placed with other foreign prisoners. The General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses and the prison management may have put a transfer like this one on the agenda to allow prisoners to be visited by their consulates. However this transfer was undertaken despite not having taken the prisoners’ opinions into consideration, and the possible hardships were not foreseen.

So that similar undue suffering is not experienced again, when making decisions about prisoners, the opinions of the prisoners and relevant civil society organizations should be taken into account and a mechanism for them to present their views in these decision-making processes should be created.

Signatories: Afyon LGBTI Foundation, Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST), Edirne LGBTI Work Group, Association for Monitoring Equal Rights (ESHİD), Initiative for Health in Prison, Hebun LGBT, Hevi LGBTI, Human Rights Association Headquarters, Foundation for Women’s Solidarity, Kaos GL, Kars Platform Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Keskesor LGBT, Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, Lambdaistanbul, Families of LGBTs in Istanbul (LİSTAG), Limbo Concept, Mahsus Mahal Association, Malatya Rainbow LGBTI Initiative, Liberal Lawyers Association, Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association, Positive Living Association, Human Rights in Mental Health Association (RUSİHAK), Black Pink Triangle İzmir Association, Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD), Trabzon Purple Figh LGBT, Trans Solidarity Center (T-Der), Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), Queer Documentaries.

*The number of signatories is now 29 with Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.

Gender reassignment in prison, approved!

28 year-old Y.A., a convict in Maltepe prison was granted the right to change gender following the issue of a doctor’s report stating the inmate had gender dysphoria

Source: Radikal, “Cezaevinde cinsiyet değişimine onay!” (“Gender reassignment in prison, approved!”), Radikal, 20 January 2015,

Y.A., a 28 year-old convict having issues with their sexual identity, applied to the court while in Maltepe prison to change their name and gender. Last year in January, following the issue of a doctor’s report stating that they had gender dysphoria, Y.A. legally changed her name to Asli A. at the 6th Anatolia Civil Court. Within a month of the name change, Asli A.’s request to change their gender was approved.


Reaching a verdict on Asli A.’s request, in which she stated she is transsexual and deeming gender reassignment as vital to her mental well-being, the 22nd Anatolia Civil Court instructed a report be issued by Marmara University Pendik Learning and Research Hospital. Diagnosing Asli A. as suffering from gender dysphoria, the report concluded it was crucial that her biological identity match her female psycho-sexual identity to safeguard her mental well-being. The report added, “It is important and essential for the person’s mental well-being that the prison conditions are adapted to correspond to her sexual identity and the necessary supplies are provided for her personal care. No objections on the basis of mental health were found against the surgery to reassign the person’s gender as female.”


One year on from the court’s decision, the execution of Asli A.’s gender reassignment surgery was still pending when she wrote a letter to Servet Kartal, Anatolia’s 1st Prosecuting Judge. Noting that Kartal had previously approved a similar request from inmate Deniz C. and had directed the Penal Prosecution Office to do what was necessary, Asli A. demanded that the same decision be made for her case, expressing that her surgery was being obstructed by the Penal Prosecution Office.


Anatolia 1st Prosecuting Judge Servet Kartal stated that the inmate’s transsexuality meant her gender needed to be immediately reassigned as female and failing to do so would otherwise lead to mental health problems as outlined in the hospital report. In his two-page verdict Kartal wrote, “The execution of this procedure should be imminent taking into account the deep sadness and shame people feel when have issues with their physical appearance, and the irreparable negative consequences this may have on the inmate’s mental health. This is of the same significance as having physical health issues, and therefore the execution of the procedure should be imminent, as prolonging the inmate’s wait for surgery constitutes a risk on the inmate’s life due to the threat of a mental breakdown.

Noting that the inmate, having been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria”, was being kept in prison conditions against her will, the verdict stated, “In order to uphold the right of the inmate to live according to his will, noting that gender reassignment is legally allowed to take place during imprisonment, providing the cost of the surgery is borne by the inmate and the necessary security measures are taken, it was decided that this letter be written to the Maltepe Penal Prosecution Directorate to notify the Ministry of Justice in order for the inmate to be transferred to a state hospital with the equipment and capacity to perform the surgery.”

The verdict, emphasising the immediacy of the surgery, was sent to the Maltepe Penal Prosecution Directorate.