Peru Protesters Slam New Insurance Law That Deems Transgender People Mentally Ill

LIMA – Hundreds of protesters marched in Peru’s capital on Friday to demand the repeal of a controversial new law that classifies transgender people, among others, as having a mental illness to access health benefits.

Approximately 500 demonstrators peacefully took to the streets of downtown Lima, carrying banners with slogans such as “No more stigmas” and “My identity is not a disease.”

The law, administratively approved last week by President Dina Boluarte’s government, stipulates that individuals identifying as transgender, along with “cross-dressers” and “others with gender identity disorders,” are considered to have “illnesses” eligible for mental health services through both public and private providers.

Protesters reached the health ministry offices without incident. “Gender identities are no longer considered pathologies,” asserted activist Gahela Cari Contreras, accusing Boluarte’s administration of infringing on the LGBTQ+ community’s rights. “We’re not going to let them.”

Critics argue that updating the country’s PEAS health regulations was unnecessary since existing rules already allowed for universal access to mental health services. Government officials have attributed the controversy to a misunderstanding.

In a statement following the law’s promulgation, the health ministry reiterated its rejection of LGBTQ+ stigmatization, stating that the legal language aims to ensure more comprehensive health coverage. The ministry “categorically reaffirms respect for the dignity of the person and their free actions within the framework of human rights, providing health services for their benefit,” according to the statement.

Despite the ministry’s assurances, protesters remained unconvinced. Some medical experts called for the law to be amended. “We don’t see any need to incorporate diagnoses or pathologies that no longer exist into health insurance plans,” stated Pedro Riega Lopez, dean of Peru’s CMP medical college and a practicing doctor.