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Trans, non-binary, and intersex individuals in Peru have been classified as “mentally ill” under a recent decree issued by the government’s health ministry.

The decree, signed by Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, labels “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorder in children” as mental health conditions.

Additionally, the decree includes “dual-role transvestitism,” “fetishistic transvestism,” and other “gender identity disorders” within the same mental illness category.

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The health ministry reportedly justified the decree by stating it was the only way to “guarantee full coverage of medical attention for mental health.”

This decree will alter the language in the Essential Health Insurance Plan (PEAS) to classify trans and intersex identities as mental health disorders.

Despite the decree, the health ministry emphasised in a statement on Friday (11 May) that LGBTQ+ individuals should not be subjected to “conversion therapies,” referring to a 2021 resolution that protects against such practices.

Trans advocacy groups across Peru have strongly criticised the decision, viewing it as a setback for LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

Jheinser Pacaya, director of OutfestPeru, declared on X/Twitter that the trans community in Peru would continue to fight until the decree is revoked. He accused the government of having “nothing better to do” than to attack trans individuals with this decree, highlighting that it comes over 100 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in Peru in 1924.

Similarly, the LGBTQ+ rights group Red Peruana condemned the move for further stigmatising the trans community, arguing that the policy is based on an “outdated” understanding of gender identity.

Percy Mayta-Tristán, a medical researcher at Lima’s Scientific University of the South, told the Telegraph that the decree demonstrates a lack of understanding of the complex issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

“You can’t ignore the context that this is happening in a super-conservative society, where the LGBT community has no rights and where labelling them as mentally ill opens the door to conversion therapy,” Mayta-Tristán stated.

An Ipsos poll from early 2023 revealed that 81 per cent of Peruvian citizens believe trans people face significant discrimination in society today.

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