The Turkish government recently ruffled feathers for blocking the country’s residents from accessing Twitter, and now officials have caused an uproar again for announcing plans to open a gay prison. The Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag defended the proposal by asserting how convicts need to be protected against the threat of abuse, and that includes those who are gay or transgender.
Bozdag has said if this new prison becomes a reality, inmates who have stated they are homosexual will not be permitted to interact with other prisoners in the facility’s communal areas. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before, and although the reasons behind the intention may be well-founded, that hasn’t stopped many from speaking out against the plans.
Opposition groups have protested a gay prison represents a backwards shift, because rather than making it easy and expected for people to live in harmony with each other regardless of sexual orientation, the plans for this new correctional facility would ostracize gay individuals. The point has also been raised that this approach focuses on a form of punishment for possible victims of abuse rather than singling out inhabitants of the prison who are directly harming others.
Although the views of the Turkish government towards the gay community are not as harsh as in other places, the country is far from being a friendly place for those individuals. In fact, being openly gay puts a person at risk for violating what are known as “public morality laws.” If this new prison structure moves past the planning phases, it’s hard to see how its implementation could be positive for the gay rights movement as a whole.
There are also economic factors to consider about this proposed gay prison. The number of prisoners in Turkey who are gay is reportedly very small, with less than 100 individuals who are imprisoned identifying themselves as such. However, it’s also believed the true number is much larger than that, and the figure is skewed because people are afraid to reveal their sexual orientations.
The people who have come forward to say they are gay are certainly very bold, especially since prisons can be particularly difficult environments in which to disclose personal details regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.
Since there has already been an outcry already raised over the prospect of a gay prison in Turkey, it seems extremely unlikely additional prisoners will be eager to come forward with information that will only mean they get segregated from society. With that in mind, will this ambitious but controversial option really be economically feasible and able to withstand additional public scorn?
[Photo Credit: Organic BZ]