Man Arrested And Jailed For 20 Days In Turkey ‘Because He Looked Gay’

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

3 Feb 2024

A Portuguese man was arrested and jailed for 20 days in Turkey for the crime of looking gay.

Miguel Alvaro was on holiday alone in Istanbul last June asked the officers for directions trying to meet a friend for lunch and was arrested immediately. He said he was slammed against the wall of a van before being thrown in the back.

“They grabbed my arms and I tried to free myself. One of them hit me in the ribs, they pushed me against a van, they hit me on the shoulder, which started to bleed,”

“After five hours in the police van, in which I was only told to shut up and be quiet, one of them explained to me that he had been detained because of my appearance,” he told Portuguese outlet P3.

“They thought I would participate in an unauthorised LGBTI+ march that was going to take place nearby because I looked gay. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Alvaro described horrific prison conditions including cells with maggots, lack of food and water, and threats of violence from fellow inmates. He says he couldn’t contact anyone and officials ignored assistance requests from the Portuguese embassy.

Eventually Alvaro’s father was able to reach him and advocate for his release on 12 July.

Since 2015, authorities have prohibited public Pride events across the country, citing security reasons.

Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in Turkey LGBTQ+ individuals still encounter discrimination and insufficient legal safeguards.