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Peru backtracks on controversial gender-based lockdown rules after fierce backlash from trans community

Emma Powys Maurice April 15, 2020
Peru

The army controls traffic in Peru on March 16, 2020, in an attempt to persuade the population to stay at home (BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty)

Peru has backtracked on its controversial gender-based lockdown laws following an outcry from the trans community.

Under the strict measures men could only leave home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while women could do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, no one was allowed out.

“The armed forces and national police will have clear instructions so that this is not at all a pretext for any homophobic measure,” promised the Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra, who said that police had been told to respect the gender identities of trans and non-binary people.

But given the Peruvian police’s previous track record, LGBT+ advocates remained concerned it would lead to greater discrimination.

Sure enough, despite Vizcarra’s assurances, many trans people in Peru reported increased street harassment in the eight days following the decree.

One transgender woman, Alexandra Arana, told El Comercio that she was stopped by the police while walking to the market with her friend on April 4, a day designated for women to leave the house.

She explained that she was transgender, but because the sex on her national ID card says ‘male’ the police continued to misgender her and ordered her to leave the streets.

The new measures were intended to remain in place until April 12 at the earliest, but as similar incidents of transphobia and public humiliation were reported across the country the restrictions were overturned early.

According to the BBC, the measure was revoked partially for being ineffective in minimising the amount of people in the streets at one time.

But coming as it does on the heels of a landmark ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the rape and torture of a trans woman in Peruvian police custody, it’s likely that authorities were also keen to avoid further discrimination on behalf of police.

Elsewhere in South America, the transgender community in Panama is reporting similar fears over gender-based lockdown laws.

One transgender woman reported that she was held by police for three “humiliating” hours and then fined as they accused her of not being a woman.

 

 

More: Alexandra Arana, Coronavirus, COVID-19, lockdown, Panama, Peru, South America

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