This is why we fight.
Despite gay rights and acceptance skyrocketing around the world, a handful of countries still choose to remain hateful. A quick Google search shows an anti-trans bill proposed in Hungary and, if you pay attention to world news, you know America is kind of feuding with Uganda over their laws against the LGBT community – that hold life in prison and execution as penalties if caught. Well, now we can add Turkey to the list of countries that we probably shouldn’t visit for fear of persecution. And by we, I mean members of the gay community.
To preface, I understand that certain countries have laws and ways of life that we need to adapt when visiting. This is more a showing of respect towards their culture, more so than anything else. However, how is one supposed to try and “fit in” when the very thing that disrupts the peace is how one looks. That obviously cannot be changed. This brings me to the story of Miguel Alvaro, which is also currently making worldwide news because of his unethical treatment in Istanbul, Turkey. Not for nothing, but it does sound like his basic human rights were violated this summer.
According to sources – Pink News, Greek City Times and Yahoo News UK – Miguel Alvaro, age 34, was renting an apartment in Istanbul while taking an extended vacation. He left his apartment on June 25 wearing short shorts and a crop top – which is ultimately going to play a huge part in his ordeal. Being a visitor to the country, he was finding it hard to navigate the city and stopped to ask local law enforcement for directions to his destination. It was then that he was violently arrested and thrown in the back of a police van for over 13 hours. He tells sources that he was immediately grabbed, kicked, hit in the ribs and thrown into the van while not resisting arrest. Hello, excessive force.
Miguel, a native of Portugal, believes he was arrested solely due to his clothes, appearance and that law enforcement perceived him to be gay. Not for nothing, he is a very attractive man. I tried to look at his social media pages to use photos for this article, but now that his horrible ordeal is going viral, he has set his pages to private. Basically, what I’m saying is, there is no official confirmation as of this writing that Miguel is actually homosexual. Your clothes don’t make you gay. Your looks don’t make you gay. Literally the only thing that makes you gay is who you love. Miguel also believes that he was arrested because an unsanctioned LGBT parade was happening that day and the police needed to round up a certain amount of gay people to meet quota. This becomes clearer as his situation evolved.
After spending 13 hours in a police van, Miguel was moved to an inmate holding area meant solely for people not hailing from Turkey. Miguel states to sources that he was constantly harassed and called a “faggot” by the police officers monitoring the holding area, as well as other inmates. He states that he was so afraid of being assaulted that he and two other inmates he befriended slept in shifts so that someone was always awake to watch over them. While locked up overseas, he was also kept in unclean, squaller conditions and denied personal hygiene and oftentimes food/water. When he was released 20 days later, he was still wearing the same clothes.
Luckily, Miguel’s father had come to the rescue. After about five days in prison, Miguel was finally allowed a phone call and he chose to call his father. After getting all the information, his father called the Portuguese Embassy in hopes of getting his son released. It took a while, but the 34-year-old finally saw the light of day as a free man on July 12, 2023. That means he was behind bars from June 25 to July 12 only because he asked police officers for directions and they assumed he was going to a rogue gay pride parade.
In the aftermath, Miguel states that he has loads of psychological trauma he will need treatment for.
He is also launching a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights – and I sincerely hope that he finds justice.
Heal up, Miguel. The gay community is with you during this trying time.