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Gay men in prison

Gay men in prison

Being convicted of a crime and spending time behind bars is never going to be easy. It is not intended to be. However it is important to be aware of the additional risks of being a gay prisoner, and what is in place to support and protect you.

Homophobia still exists in UK prisons. Whether this takes the form of verbal or physical abuse, the Prison System has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that you are not discriminated against in relation to your sexual orientation.

Whilst not illegal, prison-specific rules can outlaw sexual activity between prisoners. Despite this, many prisoners continue to have sex discreetly. This can range from consensual relationships, being intimidated/coerced into sex acts by other prisoners, to serious cases of sexual assault and non-consensual sex. Often the latter can be in relation to prison ‘debt’, for example as a result of trading cigarettes or drugs.

There are higher rates of STIs and HIV within prisons. Access to condoms can be tricky; prison healthcare services have a legal duty to provide these to you if you are at risk of having unprotected sex otherwise.
All prisons should have an Equalities Officer to oversee issues in relation to these concerns. When arriving in prison it is important to inform staff during your reception screening appointment of any worries relating to your sexuality so that appropriate action can be taken (they are there to keep you safe). Measures to protect you can include single cells and specific roles in the prison to minimise your contact with other prisoners.

If you feel your concerns are not being addressed you can make a formal complaint via the Independent Monitoring Board (representatives spend time on the prison wings throughout the week to deal with concerns about prisoners' treatment). There may also be prison-specific one-on-one peer support from ‘Listener’ schemes, or access to national support from organisations such as The Samaritans Helpline or the Bent Bars Project.

  Aaron is warned that being gay in prison won't be a walk in the park | Emmerdale | 13 Jun 2017 1m 37s
Aaron Livsey | Wikipedia

Bent Bars Project
Howard League
Inside Time
Prison Reform Trust

Cooma jail: Prison that was once 'world's only jail for gay men' | BBC World | 24 Apr 2022
"Not only was it reopened in 1957 with the specific purpose of incarcerating men for "homosexual offences", it was also said to be used as a human testing ground with the ultimate goal of eradicating homosexuality from society. Cooma's jail is believed to have been the only known homosexual prison in the world, according to a new podcast. Until now, even some prison staff say they didn't know the real reason gay prisoners were segregated there."
British soldiers sacked for being gay can get their medals back | The Guardian | 16 Feb 2021
"In some instances, medals were physically ripped from a service person’s uniform after a conviction at court-martial. Those found guilty of being homosexual sometimes went on to a serve a prison term, typically several months long."

Gay prisoner ‘raped and beaten’ after being forced to share cell with homophobe | Pink News | 21 May 2019
What it’s really like to be openly gay in prison | Metro | 17 May 2017
Being gay and in prison | Prison UK | 6 Nov 2016
What it’s like to be gay in prison | Vice | 26 Feb 2016
Coming out: LGBT people lift the lid on life in prison | The Guardian | 12 Aug 2015
Homophobia is still rife in UK prisons | The Guardian | 25 Sep 2012

LGBT peple in prison | Wikipedia
Prison sexuality | Wikipedia

Inside and out | HM Prison Parc, South Wales | 2015
Inside and Out is a compilation of writings from LGBT people within HMP/YOI Parcboth prisoners and staff alike. The stories are as diverse as the individuals who wrote them. They include all ages and all abilities and are from different backgrounds and upbringings united in their fear of ridicule, upsetting parents and even violence.

Sex in prisons: experiences of former prisoners | The Howard League for Penal Reform | 2015
This report explores the experiences of former prisoners interviewed about their knowledge about or personal experience of sexual activity in prison. Nearly all interviewees managed their sexual needs in prison either wholly or partially through masturbation. Eight male interviewees, seven of whom described their sexuality as either gay or bisexual, had had consensual sex with other male prisoners. While these seven interviewees had been open about their sexuality in prison, they conducted their sexual activities and relationships discreetly. Some men who self-identified as heterosexual participated in same-sex activity but did not acknowledge this. Heterosexual men who engage in sexual activity with men ‘out of necessity’ do not perceive that this affects or alters their sexual identity. Interviewees perceived that prison officers were sometimes aware of sexual activity but exercised their discretion not to intervene. Most interviewees thought that coercive sex rarely occurs in British prisons. Three male interviewees disclosed they had been raped in prison by other prisoners, and none of these rapes were officially reported. Rape in prison is certain to be significantly under reported.

Revisiting 'involuntary celibacy' and 'latent homosexuality': sexual relations in prison | Dr Alisa Stevens | 2015

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