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I was beaten up by Turkish police and jailed because I looked gay

A Portuguese man claims he was arrested in Turkey and kept in a squalid prison for nearly three weeks because he ‘looked gay’.

Miguel Alvaro was solo holidaying in Istanbul last month when he went out to meet a friend for lunch and became lost.

He asked police for directions but unbeknownst to him there was a gay rights parade nearby, which was unsanctioned by authorities.

Miguel told Portuguese outlet P3 that one of the officers ordered him to be arrested immediately

Miguel told Portuguese outlet P3 that one of the officers ordered him to be arrested immediately and he was suddenly shoved in the back of a van.

He claims: ‘They grabbed my arms and I tried to free myself. One of them hit me in the ribs, they pushed me against a van, and they hit me on the shoulder, which started to bleed.

‘After five hours in the police van, in which I was only told to shut up and be quiet, one of them explained to me that he had been detained because of my appearance.

‘They thought I would participate in an unauthorised LGBTI+ march that was going to take place nearby because I looked gay. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

Miguel said he was so afraid of attacks from other inmates because of his sexuality that he barely slept, plus the bedsheets were crawling with maggots.

A few weeks after his arrests he was allowed to make his first phone call. He chose to ring his dad, who then contacted the Portuguese embassy to secure his release.

Miguel says he has been left ‘in a horrible psychological state’, adding: ‘I’m very afraid of the consequences in the future. I can’t believe this happened to me. I pray for justice to be done.’

Homosexuality is legal in Turkey but many parts of the country are socially conservative and have become an increasingly hostile place for queer people.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vilified gay people during his re-election campaign, calling them a threat to society and rallying conservatives against them – saying gay people would never ‘infiltrate’ his governing party.

Pride events have also been systematically banned in Turkey since 2015.

‘L.G.B.T. is a poison injected into the institution of the family. It is not possible for us to accept that poison as a country whose people are 99 per cent Muslim’, President Erdogan told young people during a televised meeting in early May.

In April, his interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, also falsely claimed that gay rights would allow humans to marry animals.

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