Gay prisoners who engage in consensual sex are being separated and punished when authorities discover their relationship, a major new study by a prison watchdog has found.
The Commission on Sex in Prison, established by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the first-ever review of sex behind bars in England and Wales, also warns that the prison population is a high-risk group for sexually transmitted infections and risk-taking sexual behaviour.
The briefing paper, Consensual sex among men in prison states, that there is little information about the issue, and prison governors said that it was difficult, if not impossible, for staff to be able to distinguish between consensual sex and sexual assault involving prisoners.
They added that prisoners suspected of being in a sexual relationship were separated and could be disciplined.
The Prison Service does not allow prisoners to have sex, although there is no prison rule specifically prohibiting sexual acts between inmates.
One former inmate told the commission: ‘Officers would push open my door very quickly, unannounced, in an attempt to catch us having sex.
‘Of course it never worked but it put us on edge all the time. A senior officer did this once as Simon and I were sat on my bed holding hands watching a movie on TV. He ordered us to stop holding hands and move apart.’
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