prison conditions for LGBT

Ministry of Justice: LGBT training is provided to prisons’ psycho-social service experts

The Ministry of Justice responded to a request for information regarding LGBT inmates and said that it provides training on how to approach LGBT convicts and detainees to the prisons’ psycho-social service experts. The Ministry did not respond to the question on whether correctional officers and the general inmate population receive programs on awareness-building and violence prevention.

Source: Murat Köylü, “Adalet Bakanlığı: Cezaevi psiko-sosyal servis uzmanlarına LGBT eğitimi verildi”, (“Ministry of Justice: LGBT training is provided to prisons’ psycho-social service experts”), Kaos GL, 30 December 2014,

The Ministry had said “We do not do any work on LGBT rights”

The Ministry of Justice sent a partial answer to Mahmut Tanal’s request for information regarding “LGBT rights in prisons”. Mahmut Tanal is a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey’s Human Rights Commission.

The Ministry of Justice had answered that they do not conduct “any work on LGBT rights”, in response to another request for information by Parliamentarian Tanal. However, it has been revealed that the Ministry is in fact giving trainings on the issue to the prison psycho-social service experts.

Isolation instead of education!

The European Court of Human Rights had found Turkey guilty of discrimination and ill-treatment in a 2012 case regarding a gay inmate’s “isolation for his own security.” In the following months of the judgement,  the Ministry of Justice had put forth an “LGBT-only Prison”, which was criticized by civil society as “collective isolation”.

Mahmut Tanal, Member of Parliament from the Republican People’s Party, submitted a parliamentary question in November 2014 to the Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ on “LGBT inmates rights”. However, given the fact that questions submitted by opposition parties usually go unanswered, the same questions were submitted to the Ministry through a request for information, which makes a response mandatory.

The questions submitted by MP Tanal are:

  • Are there any occupational trainings regarding the problems and special needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans detainees and convicts given to correctional officers, teachers, social workers, psychologists, sociologists, and health personnel working within the prison system?
  • In the recruitment process for the aforementioned personnel, are there any criteria requiring knowledge and experience that are to be met on LGBT persons’ human rights and special needs?
  • Are there any awareness-building and violence prevention programs given to correctional officers and other inmates on combating stereotypes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, exclusion and violence?


Homophobia is both “inside” and “outside”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Homofobi Hem İçeride Hem Dışarıda,” (“Homophobia is both Inside and Outside,”) bianet, 17 May 2012,

LGBT people face homophobia/transphobia all the time in the outside world and they must fight inside as well. They are fighting discrimination, the prison management, and prison guards; they demand their rights to health care and access to treatment, the right to a fair trial and the right to live humanely.

Activist Aras Güngör who works with LGBT people in prisons spoke about LGBT inmates and their living conditions “inside.”

3 prisons have trans wards

We do not know the number of LGBT people in prison because the probability of problems during trial and in prison is very high when sexual orientation and gender identity are expressed.

Güngör states that the inability to express sexual orientation and gender identity because of social exclusion and discrimination in the outside world exists in prison as well. This also explains the lack of data on the number of LGBT people in prison. Still, he remarks that it is not possible to keep gender identities hidden from inmates in the same wards.

The situation gets a bit more complicated for transgender people. Güngör states that the treatment of trans people- who are visible by nature- differs according to the attitudes of prison administrations.