Turkey: Portuguese tourist says he was jailed for looking gay

turkey Miguel Álvaro

A 34-year-old Portuguese man was arrested by the police while vacationing in Turkey because he "looked gay", Portuguese media reported.

In speaking to Público, Miguel Álvaro claimed that he was arrested because his shorts were "shorter than usual for a man."

He said the issue began when he left the apartment he was renting in the Taksim district in Istanbul and saw a group of police officers. He headed towards them, asking for directions on how to get to the tourist district of Balat.

Álvaro says he was immediately surrounded by police officers who grabbed his hands.

"One of them hit me in the ribs, pushed me into a van, hit me in the shoulder, which was bleeding," the young man recounted. “After five hours in the police van, where they were just telling me to shut it up and be quiet, one of them explained to me that I had been arrested because of the way I looked."

"They thought I was going to join an unauthorised LGBTQI+ march nearby because I looked gay. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“That was the beginning of my nightmare. I continued to be in the police van as the officers proceeded to arrest people who had taken part in the march. I was joined by an Iranian and a Russian. We were taken to a detention centre where we remained for another 17 hours.

"During the detention we did not have access to the bathroom and we were not allowed to eat or drink water."

All three were told by the police that they would be released and deported to their countries on the condition that they "cooperate". This did not happen and so they were taken to a prison "a few kilometres from the Syrian border."

According to the young man, he did not even have access to his mobile phone and therefore did not have the opportunity to talk to his relatives.

Russians and Chechens threatened our lives

As the 34-year-old says, in the same prison there were Russians and Chechens who "threatened to kill them." The three men slept in shifts so that there was always someone to "watch" what was going on.

On July 2 he was allowed to make a phone call. So he contacted his father.

As Público reported, no one from the Portuguese embassy visited Miguel, nor was he offered help. In fact, as the Portuguese newspaper reported, this was also confirmed by diplomatic sources.

Finally on July 12 he was released together with the Russian citizen. However, their Iranian co-prisoner who is an LGBTI+ activist and was living in Turkey as a refugee remained in prison.

In fact, it remains unclear what happened to his case, while according to his family he was allegedly beaten. Miguel is now with his family and it is possible to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

READ MORE: Turkish political leader: Greeks, Romans and Americans are "gay gods in the East Mediterranean."

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