Canada

No gay sex in prison, no condoms needed: Nunavut premier

The premier of Nunavut says condoms aren't handed out in the territory's jail system because there's no homosexual activity.

The premier of Nunavut says condoms aren't handed out in the territory's jails because there's no homosexual activity.

Paul Okalik's comments have raised concerns in the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network, the organization that released a study last week showing rates of HIV and hepatitis C growing in Canada's prisons.

The group also issued a report card on how the country's corrections system is handling the spread of HIV-AIDS in prisons.

Nunavut got an F.

"I believe our inmates that I know of are all heterosexual people and I haven't heard of any same-sex relations to date, so if we did see any, I think condoms could be readily available," said Okalik, who also serves as the territory's justice minister.

Nunavut's jails also don't have a needle exchange program.

Ralf Jurgens of the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network said HIV rates are low in Nunavut, but the disease is spreading in Canada's prisons. He said Nunavut should give condoms to all inmates.

"The premier says that he isn't aware of homosexual activity in prison in the territory. The reality is that sexual activity happens in prisons. Men, when they're together in institutions, they sometimes have sexual activity even if they don't consider themselves homosexuals," said Jurgens.

He said even if inmates don't use the condoms in prison, they could use them when they get out.

Jurgens said the provinces and territories can't close their eyes to what is happening in their prisons, and need to take action fast.