National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi has told parliament that it may be necessary for the police to allocate prison cells for gay inmates.

Talking to MPs on Friday, he said that some gay prisoners have been demanding to be placed in cells with other gay inmates.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do as police – whether at some stage we will need to have cells like those [for gay people],” he said.

He went on to say that, “This is a problem that we have because this democracy recognises all preferences and some people prefer to say ‘we are gay.’”

In March, parliament heard how a gay suspect arrested for shoplifting in the Free State had apparently been released after he refused to be locked up with other men.

Safety and security committee chairperson Maggie said at the time that, “He, or she, as he referred to him/herself, demanded to be detained with the female prisoners, claiming the men would rape him. However, the female detainees also refused to share a cell with him worrying that they may be raped by him.”

Bizarrely some ANC MP’s blamed the passing of the Civil Union Act – which legalised same-sex marriage – for the apparent predicament. ANC MP Benjamin Ntuli said in March that, “The Civil Union Act is causing a dilemma. Do we lock up suspects according to their gender and in so doing open ourselves up for law suits?”

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