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A huge number of US prisoners are gay and a lot are having sex together

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are three times more likely to be locked up in the US and it isn’t quite as fun as OITNB

gay prisonersLesbians, gays, and bisexuals are three times more likely to be locked up in the US than straight people.

But if you like what you see on Orange Is The New Black then it looks like it may be more truth than fiction. A new study shows that gay, lesbian, or bisexual inmates are more likely to suffer harsher treatment or mistreatment and be sexually victimised.

The first in-depth report into LGB minorities in prisons across the US has been released by the prestigious Williams Institue, part of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

They report there are around 238,000 sexual minority inmates across jails and prisons in the United States.

Dr Ilan H Meyer says that the aim of the research is to raise ‘awareness of the heightened risk that sexual minority populations face’.

In the US jails are for shorter periods of incarceration and prisons are for inmates serving longer sentences.

What do the results say?

There are more LGB inmates than expected, but figures for lesbian and bisexual women are even higher.

The report shows 6.2% of men in jail and 9.3% of men in prison are either gay, bisexual, or straight guys who have had gay experiences. Among female inmates, 35.7% in jail and 42.1% in prisons are in sexual minorities.

And things get worse. LGB inmates are more likely to have poorer mental health or have experienced childhood sexual assault:

  • 29.3% of gay and bi male inmates men have poor mental health versus 13.6% of straight male inmates.
  • 24.7% of lesbian and bisexual women who are locked up have poor mental health versus 18.8% of straight women inside.
  • 33.4% of gay and bi male prisoners have experienced childhood sexual abuse versus 6.3% of straights.
  • 53.7% of lesbian and bi women in jails and prisons experienced childhood sexual abuse versus 31.4% of straight women.

The largest proportion of gay and bisexual men are white American, aged 30 to 44. Lesbian or bisexual women inmates are younger, aged 18 to 29, and they are also more likely to be white.

What do LGBs go through in jail?

The study also shows that sexual minorities are more likely to have experienced sexual victimization from either another inmate or staff:

  • 17.5% of gay and bi men have been sexually victimized by inmates and staff, versus 2.65% of straight men.
  • 13.1% of gay and bi women are victims of sexual abuse versus 5.7% of straight women.

But if you love OITNB then you’ll be happy to hear sexual minorities do enjoy a shag behind bars.

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual inmates have revealed they are willing to shack up with cell mates. This is even more common among women, 30.7% of female inmates get down and dirty versus only 23.7% of male inmates. Their straight counterparts are a far more restrained with 1.27% of straight men and 6.1% of straight women consenting.

There is, unfortunately, a downside to these relationships. It tends to lead to the harsher treatment LGB inmates experience. Sexual contact between inmates is not allowed in the US. Breaching this rule can lead to extended sentences, penalisation of parole, and reduced help on release.

The report explores many of the problems faced by LGB inmates. It concludes that ‘[sexual minority inmates] experience higher rates of mistreatment, harsh punishment, and victimisation’ and urges a nationwide response to deal with these issues.

For a more detailed look at the data and to see the full report from the Williams Institute click here.


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