A LGBTQ march
The trans rights flag in a LGBTQ march AFP

The Peruvian government officially declared trans people as mentally ill, causing controversy at a national and international level.

The government justified its decision saying it allows the state to provide free psychological treatment, but advocates were quick to criticize it.

Opposition lawmaker Susel Paredes said this reinforces "stigma and discrimination towards trans people" and said its key to implement mental health policies to guarantee the rights to health, equality and identity." She also officially requested the measure be taken down.

Moreover, civil society organization Más Igualdad Perú published a letter featuring the signatures of 414 health professionals and 176 human rights organizations requesting the Health Ministry backtrack with the decision.

The controversy is sparked only days before a new anniversary of the World Health Organization's General Assembly scrapping homosexuality of its international list of diseases, a milestone that then led to the creation of the International Day Against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

"The trans population doesn't have access to healthcare because they have issues to get an identity card. They are saying people are sick, something they oppose and say 'how do you want me to go and get healthcare if they're telling me I'm sick for being trans?" Percy Mayta Tristán, director of research at Universidad Científica del Sur, told local outlet Perú 21.

On his end, Jorge Apolaya, spokesperson of Lima's Pride Parade, told local outlet El comercio that the policy "leaves a door open for conversion therapies, as well as the use of hormones to correct homosexuality, which are considered forms of torture by international law." .

The government is so far refusing to cave. Despite saying they don't consider gender diversity an illness, they claim their intention is to "guarantee full coverage on mental health issues." "The Health Ministry categorically reaffirms its respect for a person's dignity and their freedom of will within their human rights," a statement claims.

According to El País, Health Minister César Vázquez hasn't spoken publicly about the issue but has faced the press to criticize the arrest of president Dina Boluarte's brother.

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