A prisoner held at the Sharon Prison for violent crimes was denied conjugal visits privileges by the Israel Prison Service
(IPS) and is threatening to turn the matter to the court.
The inmate, a gay man disowned by his family because of his sexual orientation, is visited only by his partner. "He is alone," his partner told Ynet, "no one visits him but me."
The prisoner's attorney, Moshe Shochetman, from the legal council of Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association,
said that after he reviewed the prison's conjugal visits policy, he found out that "prisoners at the same prison who meet fewer criteria were granted conjugal visits, so if my client is denied, it is clear that this is a case of discrimination based on sexual orientation and a violation of his rights. If the IPS does not change its decision, we will file a petition to the court."
The IPS regulations regarding conjugal visits states that married inmates or inmates whose partners have been visiting for two years are eligible for conjugal visits.
According to the inmate's partner, "I visit him regularly and I'm known as his partner – there is no reason to deny us that right. The only reason we're not granted a conjugal visit is our sexual orientation. This is discrimination."
If the couple is granted their request, it will signify an IPS precedent, as no same sex couple has been granted conjugal visits in the State of Israel.
Two inmates thus far have turned to the court on the matter, but both were released before their case was brought to trial.
An IPS source said "We must end this, and accept the fact that there are same sex couples – both men and women – and they deserve conjugal visits too. When such requests are filed, they should be addressed as any other requests and be approved."
The IPS' official response stated that "according to IPS rules and regardless of their sexual orientation, the inmate and his partner do not meet the necessary criteria for conjugal visits."
Once two years will have passed with the partner constantly visiting, or if the couple presents documents to prove the relationship, the IPS will reexamine the request.
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