Bent Bars Project


The Bent Bars Project is a letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The project was founded in 2009, responding to a clear need to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ+ communities inside and outside prison walls.

LGBTQ+ people have a long history of being policed and criminalised (and of resisting that criminalistion), and the criminal justice system continues to target queer, trans and gender non-conforming people. We also know that LGBTQ+ people are often subject to increased isolation, harassment and violence when in prison.

The Bent Bars Project aims to work in solidarity with prisoners by organising pen-pal matches, sharing resources, providing mutual support and drawing public attention to the struggles of LGBTQ+ people behind bars.

The Bent Bars Project is organised by a small collective who meet weekly on a volunteer basis to keep the project running.


  • We directly link LGBTQ people across prison walls by matching LGBTQ people inside prison with LGBTQ people outside prison as pen-pals.
  • We produce a newsletter written for and by LGBTQ prisoners.
  • We host events for pen pals on the outside.
  • We visit prisons in the UK to tell people about the project.
  • We collect, produce and distribute resources for LGBTQ prisoners.


  • To develop stronger connections and build solidarity among LGBTQ people across prison walls.
  • To reduce the isolation and increase empowerment of LGBTQ people inside and outside prison.
  • To generate awareness about issues faced by LGBTQ prisoners.
  • To facilitate LGBTQ prisoners voices being heard.
  • To provide a supportive space for people to discuss issues around imprisonment.
  • To challenge the values and assumptions that allow the current prison system to be maintained.


  • The project is motivated by a politics of solidarity, exchange and mutual support not charity or help.
  • The project is informed by prisoner experience, involvement and perspectives.
  • We make decisions collectively and work to prevent hierarchies.
  • We support all LGBTQ+ prisoners regardless of charge or conviction.
  • We believe that prisons are not effective in holding people to account for their actions, healing harms or preventing violence. We believe that there are better strategies for addressing social problems.
  • We recognise that many LGBTQ people end up in the prison system as a result of interlinked patterns of discrimination, particularly racism, poverty and ableism.
  • We aim to organise in ways that challenge these broader systems of inequality and social exclusion.

Services provided for

  1. All LGBT+ Communities

Key areas of work

  1. Advice/Information
  2. Befriending/1:1
  3. Campaigning/Activism
  4. Gender
  5. Networks
  6. Resource Library
  7. Self-help/Support Group

Contact Details

Opening Hours

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