The Colombian Constitutional Court ordered Tuesday that the rights of prisoners with diverse sexual identities be protected, reported local media.
Gay partners must be allowed conjugal visits, and jewellery, long hair and gender-ambiguous clothing on male inmates, should be allowed, said the court. Their ban was unjustified, and violated human rights of freedom, equality, dignity and the free development of personality.
The ruling following a complaint from a gay man who was not allowed to enter a Colombian prison with long hair, make-up and jewellery, the court said all prisoners must be free to express themselves.
The man told the court he had been subjected to discriminatory and abusive from prison guards on the basis of his sexual identity, and threatened with violence unless he removed earrings and cosmetics.
Bans on what prisoners and their visitors could and could not wear must be based on safety and discipline, not prejudice, the court ruled. Ideas that certain clothing or habits indicated abnormality or social immorality were erroneous and must be thrown out, it added.
The court gave Colombia’s National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC) four months to prepare a reform packages for prison rules before sending them back to the court for approval.
In conclusion, the court said that sexual identity was a free, autonomous and indisputable part of a person — therefore all restrictions and censorship of sexual preference had negative consequences for the individual.