The Tokyo Bar Association issued a sexual orientation discrimination warning to the Tokyo Detention House earlier this week when it was found out that they had been explicitly refusing an inmate access to manga which depicts homosexual sex acts — a refusal that is not upheld when inmates request materials portraying heterosexual sex acts.
Asahi Shimbun reports that the prison claimed that giving homosexual manga to the requester, a 45-year-old man who was incarcerated for drugging and robbing someone in 2010, “would cause problems in maintaining discipline and order within the facility.”
We have seen similar decisions made by correctional facilities here in the United States. This time last year, a Connecticut inmate sued the state after he was refused access to a series of art books that the prison claimed were pornography. Echoing the Tokyo Detention House reasoning, the ban of pornographic materials in Connecticut in was “to improve the work environment for prison staffers, especially female staffers, who might be inadvertently exposed to pornography.”
Similarly in 2013, Pelican Bay State Prison in California was ordered to give back an inmate’s werewolf erotica after the prison had it removed on the basis that is was “obscene” and would “incite violence.” As determined by the obscenity test of Miller v. California, the court found that the book as a whole was not obscene and as such could not legally be withheld from the prisoner.
The actions taking place in the Tokyo Detention House under the guise of maintaining order appears to be little more than a clear form of discrimination and violation of the inmate’s right to access of materials.
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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!