Globally, lesbian, gay and bisexual detainees are in a situation of particular vulnerability and at risk of human rights violations and abuses, including by fellow detainees, throughout the entire criminal justice system. Where data exists, it shows that LGBTQ people are over-represented in prison populations, reflecting wide discrimination against them at all stages of the system.
Arbitrary arrest, harassment, physical and psychological violence, forced confessions, and rape by fellow detainees or law enforcement officials have been documented against LGBTQ people in detention. They may be held together in poorer conditions than the rest of the prison population, or they may be isolated on the grounds of protection, sometimes for years at a time. Trans and intersex detainees may be refused gender-appropriate healthcare or even face ill-treatment by health professionals.
As of the end of 2020, 69 of 194 UN member states criminalise consensual same sex acts, with life imprisonment or the death penalty possible in some countries. Even where homosexuality and diverse gender identities are not explicitly criminalised, LGBTQ people are at high risk of arrest because of the way other laws can be used against them. Whilst not all LGBTQ people in prison are detained as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, there is increasing evidence demonstrating the links between societal attitudes, discrimination and abuse against LGBTQ communities, criminality and imprisonment.
Poor or socially excluded populations