Peru Classifies Transgender, Nonbinary And Intersex People As ‘Mentally Ill’

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Human Rights Watch and local activists have condemned the decree, arguing that it represents a significant regression in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Peru. File photo: Prathankarnpap, ShutterStock.com, licensed.

LIMA, PERU – Peru has recently stirred controversy by officially classifying transgender and intersex individuals as “mentally ill.” This decree, signed on May 10 by President Dina Boluarte, Health Minister César Vásquez, and Finance Minister José Arista, identifies conditions such as “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorder in childhood” as mental health issues that require medical attention. The Peruvian government claims this classification is necessary to ensure full coverage of mental health services for these groups​.

The backlash from human rights organizations and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups has been swift and fierce. Human Rights Watch and local activists have condemned the decree, arguing that it represents a significant regression in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Peru. Miluska Luzquiños, a prominent trans activist, expressed deep concern over the potential health and safety implications for trans individuals, emphasizing that the decision endangers their well-being and rights​.

In a country where homophobic and transphobic violence is already prevalent, this new classification could exacerbate discrimination and violence against transgender and intersex people. Legal recognition and protections for these communities have been lacking, and this decree only heightens their vulnerability​​.

The controversy also unfolds against a backdrop of broader societal challenges in Peru regarding gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. Recent legislative moves have seen the removal of gender equality references from school textbooks, further impacting efforts to address domestic violence and femicide through education​.

As the international community watches, the situation in Peru underscores the ongoing struggles faced by transgender and intersex individuals in many parts of the world. Advocacy groups continue to call for the reversal of this decree and for stronger protections for LGBTQ+ rights in Peru.

In 2015, Paul McHugh, a former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said that transgenderism is a mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change isbiologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

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