Peru protesters slam new insurance law

By Reuters
May 19, 2024
People protest against a new government decree in front of Peru's Ministry of Health, in Lima, Peru, May 17, 2024. — Reuters

LIMA: Hundreds of protesters in Peru’s capital marched on Friday to demand the scrapping of a new law that describes transgender people, among others, as having a mental illness so they can access health benefits.


Around 500 demonstrators peacefully walked the streets of downtown Lima, hoisting banners with slogans that read “No more stigmas” and “My identity is not a disease.”

The law, which was approved administratively last week by the government of President Dina Boluarte, specifies that those who identify as transgender, along with “cross dressers” and “others with gender identity disorders,” are considered to be diagnosed with “illnesses” that are eligible for mental health services via both public and private providers.

The protesters reached the health ministry offices, but no clashes were reported.

“Gender identities are no longer considered pathologies,” said activist Gahela Cari Contreras, who accused Boluarte’s government of trying to trample on the LGBTQ+ community’s rights. “We’re not going to let them.”

Critics of the law have argued that its update of the country’s PEAS health regulations was unnecessary, since existing rules already allowed for universal access to mental health services. Government officials have sought to chalk up the controversy as a misunderstanding.