New Publication: Protecting LGBTI Persons in Detention

The Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) has added to its many other detention monitoring resources through the publication of its new tool, Towards the Effective Protection of LGBTI Persons Deprived of Liberty: A Monitoring Guide. The latter is available for download in English.

LGBTI Monitoring GuideWeighing in at a welcomely exhaustive 130-odd pages this superb publication offers first-class guidance on monitoring various detention settings where LGBTI persons might be deprived of their liberty.

Written by Jean-Sébastien Blanc, the APT’s Director of Thematic Programmes, and based on extensive consultation with key human rights actors, the new guide complements the organization’s numerous other tools with a focus on detention, including prisons, police facilities, immigration detention, and psychiatric and social care settings. Many of the APT’s publications are featured in these pages under Other Resources.

Significantly, the UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz offers the following thoughts in the publication’s Foreword, highlighting the gap it fills:

Upon entering a place of deprivation of liberty, I have had meetings in which authorities were visibly uncomfortable at the sole use of the word lesbian and others in which I was informed that gay men are a construct of other parts of the world and not existing in that context. While the legal argument that condoms are criminal paraphernalia is only made in the 71 countries that still criminalise same sex relations, in the rest of the world the stigma associated to the mere existence of LGTBI persons remains deeply entrenched in the collective awareness.

Up to this day, I have never had an experience where policies in places of detention catered for bisexual persons or revealed an understanding of intersexuality. While great progress has been made in relation to the needs of trans persons, they remain the most mistreated of all persons deprived of liberty …

The reader of this manual, possibly about to engage in a visit that hopefully will impact persons’ lives and contribute to social change, may experience apprehension deriving from an awareness of just how little one single person can know about the enormous range of problems and needs connected to sexual orientation and gender identity in places of deprivation of liberty, a concern that I know only too well. This guide – prepared by the Association for the Prevention of Torture with great attention to the current state of international human rights law, best practices in the field of torture prevention, and the wealth of experience of the extraordinary group of experts that provided its substance – will provide an understanding of the factors of risk and the acts, patterns and extreme manifestations of torture and ill treatment against LGTI persons, and is an invaluable blueprint for any conceptual understanding of these.

In this connection there can be no doubt that the APT guide ably accomplishes what it sets out to achieve. The publication is divided into five main chapters, the first of which highlights the specific exposure of LGBTI detainees to torture and other ill-treatment. It is then followed by an in-depth focus on the key considerations relating to monitoring methodology, closely examining all stages of the detention monitoring process from planning a programme of visits through to reporting on their findings.

The latter three chapters offer useful practical insights into three frequently encountered detention contexts. These include a focus on the monitoring of the situation of LGBTI persons in: (a) prisons; (b) police custody as well as the wider context of policing; and (c) immigration detention. In doing so, these chapters offer the reader detailed guidance on key aspects of monitoring such detention regimes.

In bringing to the fore such a key publication the APT has once again succeeded in equipping detention monitors and human rights actors alike at the national level with an invaluable tool aimed at enhancing the protection of a particularly vulnerable group of persons when deprived of their liberty.


Readers are kindly invited to download the publication and explore its contents.

Discover more background information about the guide.

Read author Jean-Sébastien Blanc’s guest blog about his new contribution to torture prevention for Penal Reform International.