Protecting LGBTI people deprived of their freedom: a fundamental duty
The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), headquartered in Geneva, has been working for forty years to prevent abuse in prison, especially by strengthening the monitoring bodies in places of deprivation of liberty. It is publishing a monitoring guide for the protection of LGBTI persons in prison. The drafting of this guide was supervised by Jean-Sébastien Blanc. Prison Insider asked him three questions.
Our aim is to ensure that oversight bodies are well equipped so that they can identify these factors that aid and abet violence.
Prison Insider. APT is publishing a practical guide about the protection of LGBTI persons in prison. What are you expecting from it?
Jean-Sébastien Blanc. This guide is the outcome of a very long period of work. It was put together in response to various problems and issues we identified. While working on this guide, we realised that there was a real lack of solutions to this highly sensitive issue. In particular, there are no directives for the institutions responsible for monitoring. Supervisory bodies are therefore our main target group.
We also wanted to create more visibility around this issue, as it is not well known or is even ignored by the national preventative mechanisms. Our aim is to ensure that oversight bodies are well equipped so that they can identify these factors that aid and abet violence.
The aim of this guide is also to create awareness. It raises questions about possible solutions once a problem has been identified. A chapter is dedicated to the methodological aspects of the question. It also focuses on other stakeholders, such as prison administration or police training centres.
PI. Are LGBTI prisoners more vulnerable than other prisoners? If yes, what are the reasons for this?
JSB. Sexual orientation and gender identity are factors that increase vulnerability, although every imprisonment experience is unique. It will depend on different factors. It becomes a question of “intersectionality”: age, origin, health… These various factors make it possible for prisoners to be overexposed to torture and ill-treatments.
LGBTI persons are particularly vulnerable to violence, be it verbal, physical or sexual.
Even without being in prison, these people are always stigmatised and face discrimination on a daily basis. The violence they face only gets worse in prison.
PI. This guide is the fruit of many years of work. How did you manage to obtain the information and testimonies in this guide?
JSB. At APT, we do not work in isolation. So we reached out to a large range of specialists, a step that was indispensable in treating such a complex matter. The approach to this subject is different depending on the country in question.
However, this guide is universal. Presently, seventy countries regard relations between two people of same sex as a crime.
We had to look for experts from every part of the world and made sure we treated every question related to each letter of the acronym “LGBTI” differently.
The challenge was twofold: to produce a publication that is relevant for everyone without forgetting today’s realities.