Thai prisons to mix sexes to discourage gay relationships

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 19 2002 12:00 AM ET

To discourage gay relationships in prisons, the Thai government has decided to try allowing male and female inmates to mix with each other, officials said Friday. No physical contact will be allowed, and the mixing of sexes will be for limited periods during vocational training under close watch, they said.

Next month, 922 female inmates in a prison in the northern Nakhon Sawan province are to be allowed into a men's zone, where they will work together on vocational activities, said Nathee Chitsawang, deputy director general of the Thai Corrections Department. "The activity will be closely monitored by wardens. After the activity they will escorted back to their respective zones," Nathee said.

Nathee said officials have gathered anecdotal evidence that homosexuality is growing among the 250,000 inmates in the country's 132 prisons. "A study showed that after long confinement with the same sex, the inmates look at their fellow prisoners as more beautiful than people of the opposite sex," Nathee said. "This behavior has created the problem of homosexuality, and we hope that mixing the sexes would help lessen the problem."