Label Wars

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Peruvian LGBTQ groups protested in the capital Lima this week after the country’s health ministry classified transgender identities as “mental health problems,” a move that advocates fear will make transgender people targets of aggression, NBC News reported.

Last week, President Dina Boluarte signed a supreme decree that updated the ministry’s insurable mental health conditions to include “transsexualism,” “gender identity disorders,” and “cross-dressing.”

This change contradicts the 2019 World Health Organization’s reclassification, which removed gender incongruence from the “mental and behavioral disorders” category.

The Peruvian Health Ministry defended the update, saying it aims to ensure comprehensive mental health care and affirmed that gender and sexual diversity are not diseases.

But the decision prompted a collective of more than 60 LGBTQ organizations to protest in front of the ministry’s headquarters over the weekend – demonstrations that coincided with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

Protesters complained that the decree perpetuates outdated views, calling it “a serious setback in terms of our rights and in the recognition of our dignity as individuals.”

Others warned the measure could legitimize harmful practices, such as conversion therapy. Both organizations called for the decree’s reconsideration and the promotion of inclusive policies.

The health ministry said, however, that gender identity is not a health disorder, adding that individuals should not be subjected to conversion therapy and similar practices.

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