Minburi Prison in Bangkok, Thailand began a trial of separating transgender prisoners last year (Photo: Facebook)
Activists in Thailand said more needs to be done to protect transgender prisoners. The comments came as Thailand’s Department of Corrections trained staff on the risks facing transgender prisoners.
‘All trans people are still put in prison based on their sex at birth’, said Kath Kangpiboon, Transgender Activist and University lecturer. ‘Thats why there is a lot of gender-based discrimination against this minority group’.
This week, Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister, ACM Prajin Jantong, expressed concern over the abuse of transgender people in prisons and the lack of a support system to protect them.
The Department of Corrections, together with a UN agency, held a training session on transgender prisoners.
The Director-General of the department said of Thailand’s 346,000 prison population, 4,500 inmates were transgender.
Only a ‘few prisons’ had separate quarters for transgender inmates, he said. Integration had therefore led to ‘disputes and prostitution’, he said, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand.
Since 1993, Thailand has kept some LGBTI prisoners from other inmates.
Transwomen and transmen faced risk of sexual abuse, said Kath Kangipboon. They also faced a lack of appropriate healthcare and could not access hormone treatment.
Kath Kangpiboon urged more training on gender issues for all prison staff. ‘They do not get the concept of gender identity or respect trans inmates’, she said.
An opinion piece in Thai newspaper The Standard this week detailed the risks facing transgender prisoners. Writer Aran Nongpon said sexual abuse of transgender inmates put them at risk of STIs.
He argued that the problem had persisted for a long time and urged better discipline and respect from staff.
Last year, Thailand launched a pilot program at Minburi prison in Bangkok. The prison separated 30 transgender female inmates from the rest of the male population.
Other countries have already started keeping LGBTI prisoners seperate including the United States and Nepal recently floated the idea to run a similar program.
Proposals to build ‘pink prisons’ in Turkey and Italy were shutdown over fears LGBTI inmates could face worse conditions because of and a segregated prison was a form of discrimination.