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Being a good man

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.

Bent Bars Project
Howard League
Inside Time
Prison Reform Trust

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