Response from Ministry of Justice concerning LGBT Inmates in Turkey

Posted on 6 Ağustos 2013

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A response from the Ministry of Justice, to the questions posed by Zafer Kılıç, CEO of the Civil Society in the Penal System Foundation, regarding LGBT inmates within the framework of the Law on the Right to Information, has been received. The observations that can be made from the Ministry of Justice’s responses are as follows:

1.    The Ministry of Justice describes LGBT people as “people with LGBT” which brings forth the question whether the Ministry considers someone being LGBT akin to living with a disease like cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis.

2.     The Ministry of Justice states that the total number of LGBT inmates is 79. It would not be wrong to infer that this number covers mostly trans individuals given the fact that lesbian, gay, and bisexual inmates can go without detection and not be included in statistics unless they express it themselves.

3.     One of the main difficulties LGBT inmates face in prison, as evidenced from their complaints, is isolation. There is information that LGBT inmates, who are few in numbers, are isolated for reasons of security and there is a sentence of conviction on this issue by the European Court of Human Rights. When the Ministry’s numbers are taken into account, apart from11 inmates in Maltepe and 9 in Eskişehir, the remaining 59 inmates are dispersed among 16 prisons. This situation brings forth the question of whether these inmates are isolated or not. The following chart shows the inmate and prison numbers according to the Ministry’s statistics.

Inmate Number Prison Number Prison

11

1

Maltepe

9

1

Eskişehir

7

2

Antalya L, Metris 2

6

4

Alanya L, Ankara 2 L, Bafra T, Kocaeli 2 T

5

1

Çorum L

4

1

Ankara 1 L

3

1

Kocaeli 1 T

2

2

Adana E, Buca

1

5

Afyonk. E, Burdur E, Nevşehir E, Sivas E, Tokat T

When Maltepe and Eskişehir are excluded, LGBT inmates are on average 3 people. 5 LGBT inmates is an exception. These numbers reveal that the majority of LGBT inmates are isolated.

4.     According to the Ministry of Justice’s statement, inmates who declare that they are LGBT upon entry are “made to get a report from the health commission in order to state their condition and be housed in units appropriate to their status with convicts and detainees in the same condition.” The subject that must be emphasized here is “the report that states their condition.” The health report is made mandatory for inmates who declare that they are LGBT and for this reason, these inmates are subjected to health controls that are incompatible with human dignity.

5.     The Ministry states “it is planned that LGBT inmates and other convicts and detainees are to be kept apart while using common areas and during social activities,” and adds “under the consideration of legislative provisions and the means of the institution.” It is known that common areas are limited in prisons. There is evidence of neglect due to these planned limitations in prisons where the number of LGBT inmates are few. There is an article regarding this issue in our blog.

6.     From the Ministry’s response, we understand that “a special penal institution is being planned for those convicts and detainees in the condition of being LGBT.” There will be negative consequences if a single prison is established for LGBT inmates and 79 LGBT inmates are gathered here. Prisoners serving their sentences generally in the same cities with their families and their social environment would be moved to the location where the special prison will be constructed.This means that LGBT inmates will be torn from their own social environment. Furthermore, this will mean that the people in this prison will be further labeled.

7.     According to the Ministry’s response, of all the LGBT inmates, 8 are detainees and 71 are convicts, meaning that 1 out of 9 inmates are detainees. However, of all the inmates in Turkey (as of 17 July 2013), 26.809 are detainees and 105.419 are convicts. This is approximately 1 out of 4. Even though there is no data on the trial proceedings of LGBT inmates, these numbers suggest that the trial process works faster for LGBT. It can be argued that a negative labeling rather than a positive expediency causes the fast-pace of the trial process.

8.     Some of the questions posed within the context of the Law on the Right to Information were not answered.

The observations above are preliminary thoughts on the Ministry of Justice’s answers. Prisons are closed books and are even more cagey when it comes to LGBT inmates. It is important to bring this issue forward, follow and find the problems, put forth solutions and demand them from the state within the context of human rights.

We share below the questions of the application submitted within the context of the Law on the Right to Information and the answers: 

Questions of the Application within the Framework of Law on the Right to Information:

There are not only heterosexual individuals in Turkey’s penal facilities and detention houses. Though they are not recognized in Turkey’s legal legislation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals who fall outside of the traditional “female” and “male” norms and who are also known as LGBT are also in prisons.

The term lesbian is used for women who have a same-sex sexual orientation.

The term gay includes all individuals who have a same-sex sexual orientation but is used more generally to refer to men.

The term bisexual is used for individuals who are drawn to and have sexual desires for both same-sex and opposite-sex individuals.

The term trans is used to cover different gender identities and/or gender expressions. In this context, it is used as an umbrella word for “transvestite,” “transsexual,” “cross-dresser,” and other definitions that fall outside the traditional  “female” and “male” norms.

Because of gender identities and sexual orientations, these people may have special problems, troubles, and needs rooted in being themselves. In order to detect and solve these problems, it is essential to have the necessary information. For this reason:

1.     In Turkey’s penal facilities, detention centers, and prisons, what is the number of detainees and convicts who fall outside the traditional  “female” and “male” norms and who are known as LGBT?

2.    In which penal facilities and detention centers are these LGBT convicts and detainees located and how are they distributed (this information is demanded in terms of province, city, and name of the institution in subject)?

3.     How many LGBT detainees and convicts are imprisoned for breaking which law/laws?

4.     Where, within the penal facilities and detention centers are the individuals who state upon entry that their gender identities or sexual orientations fall outside the traditional “female” and “male” norms, housed and under what conditions?

5.     In which penal facilities and detention centers are there separate units for LGBT individuals (this information is demanded in terms of province, city, and name of the institution in subject)? Where and under which conditions are LGBT individuals held in penal facilities and detention centers where there are no separate units? From these inmates, are there individuals who are kept separate from other inmates according to their own wishes? How many LGBT inmates are there who are kept separate from other inmates without their consent?

6.     Are there special arrangements for LGBT individuals according to their needs in Turkey’s penal institutions and prisons? If so, what are they?

7.     LGBT inmates may need special health care such as hormone therapies. Is this service and need being provided? Are there inmates within penal facilities and detention centers who demand hormone therapies? Have these demands been met?

Furthermore, LGBT individuals have special needs such as wax and safety razors. Are these needs sold in the canteens of penal facilities and detention centers? Are these needs being addressed for inmates without adequate financial means?

8.     Are LGBT inmates allowed to use common areas, fitness rooms, and libraries in penal facilities and detention centers that are designated for inmates? Are they allowed to come together with other inmates when using these services and facilities?

9.     Is there a study of the problems and situations of LGBT inmates who are in Turkey’s penal facilities and detention centers and if there is, is it still continuing? 

The Response from the Ministry of Justice

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Justice

General Directorship of Penal Facilities and Penitentiaries

No: 10972642/2683/96537 24/07/2013

Subject: Information request

Mr. Zafer KIRAÇ. CISST. KamerhatunMh. Hamaltaşı Cad. ÜstündağİşMerkezi No: 14/139 Galatasaray-Beyoğlu/ISTANBUL info@cezaevindestk.org

The answers to your request for information dated 05/07/2013 under the Law on the Right to Information No: 4982 are below. In regards to your application;

In the condition that detainees and convicts declare that they are LGBT upon entry to the institution, they are made to get a report from the health commission in order to state their condition and be housed in units appropriate to their status with convicts and detainees in the same condition. Like all detainees and convicts in the penal institution, the institution’s clinic works to protect the physical and mental health of detainees and convicts with LGBT, conducts the first physical to diagnose their illness and provide treatment services; those who need further examination, treatment, and rehabilitation are dispatched to state hospitals, and those who need further health care are dispatched to university hospitals. With the advice of the associated doctor, detainees and convicts with LGBT undergo routine controls and their treatment is undertaken regularly according to medical necessity and the appropriate legislation, all help and psychological support is provided in their care within means.

Keeping in mind the health condition of detainees and convicts with LGBT in penal facilities, the legislative provisions, and the means of the institution, it is planned that LGBT inmates and other convicts and detainees are to be kept apart while using common areas and during social activities; it is assured that they benefit from all resources the other inmates benefit from.

Regarding the same application; convicts and detainees who declare that they are LGBT upon entry to the institution are made to get a report from the health commission in order to state their condition and be housed in units appropriate to their status with convicts and detainees in the same condition.

Convicts and detainees in the condition of LGBT are taken to common areas and social activities planned in a manner that keeps them apart from other convicts and detainees.

Furthermore, a special penal institution is being planned for those convicts and detainees in the condition of being LGBT.

Regarding the same application; the chart that shows the number of LGBT detainees and convicts’ and the Penal Facilities they have been located in since 15.05.2013 is attached. Furthermore, the 7th article of the Law on the Right to Information titled “the character of the demanded information or document” includes the provision that “the application for information has to be related to the information or documents that are present and required by duty to be kept within the institutions and establishments that are being petitioned. Institutions and establishments may respond negatively to applications that may require information or documents that would be created through a separate and special study, research, investigation or analysis. If the information or documents are located in a place other than the petitioned institution and establishment, the application will be sent to that institution and establishment, and the petitioner will be informed by writing.” In this situation; the information associated with the crimes committed and the duration of the sentences of LGBT detainees and convicts in the Penal Facilities would require a special study, research, and investigation and therefore have not been fulfilled. I submit to your information.

Burhanettin ESER Judge Minister Vice Director APPENDIX: (1 page)

Konya Yolu No:70 06330 Beşevler/ANKARA Contact for detailed information: Tel: (0312) 204 16 80 Fax: (0312) 223 73 40 email: cte@adalet.gov.tr Web:http://www.cte.adalet.gov.tr

List Attached to the Response:

DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO PENAL INSTITUTIONS

Penal Institution Detainee Convict Total
Adana E Type Closed Penal Institution 1 1 2
Afyonkarahisar E Type  Closed Penal Institution 1 1
Alanya L Type Closed Penal Institution 6 6
Ankara No: 1 L Type Closed Penal Institution 4 4
Ankara No: 2 L Type Closed Penal Institution 6 6
Antalya L Type Closed Penal Institution 7 7
Bafra T Type Closed Penal Institution 6 6
Burdur E Type Closed Penal Institution 1 1
Çorum L Type Closed Penal Institution 5 5
Eskişehir H Type Closed Penal Institution 9 9
İzmir-Buca Closed Penal Institution 1 1 2
Kocaeli No: 1 T Type Closed Penal Institution 3 3
Kocaeli No: 2 T Type Closed Penal Institution 1 5 6
Maltepe No: 2 L Type Closed Penal Institution 2 9 11
Metris No: 2 T Type Closed Penal Institution 3 4 7
Nevşehir E Type Closed Penal Institution 1 1
Sivas E Type Closed Penal Institution 1 1
Tokat T Type Closed Penal Institution 1 1
TOTAL 8 71 79

*This chart is not within the scope of the Official Statistics Program under the Decision of the Ministries No: 2008/13472 published on 19/04/2008 in the Official Newspaper No: 26852, and has been prepared specifically for this request.  

Note: A special thank you to LGBTI News Turkey and Lambdaistanbul for the translation of this document. 

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