Peru to stop labeling transgender people as mentally ill

Protest by LGBT community groups in Lima

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru will stop listing individuals who identify as transgender, among others, as suffering from mental disorders, the country's health ministry announced on Tuesday, following a backlash to the move that critics derided as unnecessary and discriminatory.

The decision comes after hundreds of protesters took the streets of the capital Lima last month to demand the scrapping of a new law that described those who identify as transgender, along with "cross dressers" and those with "gender identity disorders" as mentally ill and eligible for health services via both public and private providers.

Opponents of the law argued that the ministry's update of the country's PEAS health regulations was also unnecessary, since existing rules already allowed for universal access to mental health services.

In its Tuesday statement, the ministry said is will no longer refer to the individuals as suffering from any disorder, but instead will use the term "gender discordance" for purposes of mental and behavioral health classifications eligible for care.

The ministry also noted it will refrain from using other terms rights groups have slammed as prejudiced, while emphasizing its "respect for the dignity of the person and their free actions within the framework of human rights that provide health services for their benefit."

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Additional reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez; Editing by Kylie Madry and David Alire Garcia)