“The Rights of Transgender People in Times of a Pandemic” by the Hon. Karina Yenny Manrique Gamarra

Transgender people, despite being part of vulnerable people and having their rights recognized, such as gender identity and expression, have a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Peru, since March 16, 2020, social distancing and confinement were ordered: initially, with restrictions on departure times and then, from April 3 (a measure that lasted until April 10), an interleaved exit for men and women was established: men on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and women on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This generated a series of inconveniences given that some transwomen could not move despite the express indications of the President of the Republic and the then Minister of the Interior, that the modality of control of said measure with respect to gender would be visual; that is, if the person had the appearance of a woman, they would be treated as such, and if they had the appearance of a man, they would be considered a man.

Thus, the case of a police officer circulated on social networks, who, when requesting the identification of a transwoman, only considered the name that appeared in the said document (male name), but not his externalized gender identity. He said that it was not his place to leave that day, because it was for women.

It should be borne in mind that before the Judiciary, name changes are being processed in the non-contentious process; but not all or all trans have even regularizing their names, without this procedure preventing their way of expressing their gender.

Similarly, some transwomen were forced, through duress, to deny their gender identity. This was explained by Dr. Janet Tello Gilardi, in her conference on “Gender violence during social isolation”, organized by the Permanent Commission for Access to Justice for Vulnerable Persons, attached to the Judiciary, on April 24, 2020. Likewise, a pronouncement was issued, condemning all acts of discrimination and violence based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The judgment has recently been issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in the Azul Rojas Marín et al. Peru, which has arranged for training and awareness-raising events on the rights of LGBTI people; addressed to the personnel of the Judicial Power, the Public Ministry, the Peruvian National Police and Serenazgo personnel (Paragraph 248 of the aforementioned judgment).

Likewise, after making the pronouncements, dated April 27, 2020, the Legislative Decree No. 1470 was issued, which in its article 3, calls for unrestricted respect for human rights, being prohibited any act of discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, among others.

There is no doubt that these are difficult times and much more for LGBTI people, who despite having their rights recognized in our legal system, as well as in the international arena by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, are still victims of aggression by those who have the commission to protect the rights of all and all equally.

The Permanent Commission for Access to Justice for Vulnerable Persons has been offering free online courses as well as texts (https://bit.ly/3bBrWDK) related to the subject so that the Magistrates and the general public can know the rights of this group of people in vulnerable situations; because it is not only a legal aspect but the acceptance that we are all human persons and we must be recognized and accepted as we are.

It is necessary that this social isolation allows us to appreciate how valuable life and its many expressions are, as well as cultivate feelings of solidarity and acceptance among ourselves. Meanwhile, we will continue to fight for the eradication of all acts of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation; and for protecting the effective enjoyment of fundamental rights.

This blog post was prepared by IAWJ member, Judge Karina Yenny Manrique Gamarra. The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IAWJ.