Panama tells police to be fair on trans people in gender-based lockdowns

Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:24 GMT

Police officers are pictured during the curfew as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Panama City, Panama March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

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Trans people have been detained or fined just for going outside during lockdown

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By Oscar Lopez

MEXICO CITY, May 12 (Openly) - Authorities in Panama have ordered police to avoid discriminating against LGBT+ people during the country's gender-based coronavirus lockdown following an outcry over trans people being detained for going outside on the "wrong" day.

Panama's Ministry of Public Security said on Twitter late on Monday that it had "instructed the security forces to avoid any type of discrimination against the LGBTI population in restrictions adopted (due to) Covid19".

The Security Ministry did not immediately respond to a Thomson Reuters Foundation request for comment.

Last month Panama ruled that men and women could only leave their homes on separate days to slow the spread of the virus but this left trans people in legal limbo, activists said, with some fined or detained by police.

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The Panamanian Association of Trans People said it had received more than 40 discrimination complaints since the restrictions began, including problems getting into supermarkets or buying medicine.

Panama is the latest country in Latin America to respond to criticism regarding gendered lockdown rules.

Last week, Colombia's capital, Bogota, said it would lift gender-based restrictions after being criticized by LGBT+ groups and similar limitations were ended after a week in Peru as retailers struggled to control crowds on women's days.

LGBT+ rights activists welcomed the announcement from authorities as a step in the right direction, but said more needed to be done to fully address the issue in Panama which has recorded about 8,600 cases of coronavirus and about 250 deaths.

"The statement ... will be meaningless without an explicit authorization for transgender people to comply with the gendered quarantine in accordance with their gender identity," said Cristian Gonzalez, a researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

LGBT+ people still face considerable legal challenges in Panama, a conservative, majority-Catholic Central American country where trans people can only legally change their gender identity by undergoing surgery.

(Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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