Bathroom dispute threatens top OAS meeting in Peru

Jul 15, 2022, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:57 pm

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A dispute over a gender-neutral bathroom has endangered Peru’s plan to host the next gathering of the Organization of American States’ top decision-making body.

Peru’s congress, dominated by social conservatives, voted Thursday night to deny authorization for the scheduled Oct. 5-7 General Assembly of foreign ministers from across the hemisphere. Its theme is supposed to be: “Together against inequality and discrimination.”

The OAS had requested at least one gender-neutral bathroom be available and Peru did permit bathrooms open to people of any sex during the 2018 Summit of the Americas in Lima.

Peru’s Foreign Minister César Landa issued an appeal on Twitter Friday urging lawmakers to reconsider. “This seriously damages the international image of Peru,” he said, and argued that the request would not create “future international obligations.”

But Congressman Ernesto Bustamante of the conservative Popular Front party — who heads the Foreign Relations Commission — said allowing a gender-neutral bathroom would inevitably “introduce the existence of trans bathrooms and neutral bathrooms and common bathrooms in Peru’s internal law.”

“If they want to go to the bathroom here, they will go the the bathroom that corresponds to their sex as it is: woman and man,” said Tania Ramírez, another Popular Front legislator.

Marxist Congressman Guido Bellido — a former prime minister under President Pedro Castillo — also chimed in. “The OAS worrying itself about bathrooms? What have we come to? This is a joke,” he said. “Peru is a country with sovereignty; whoever wants to come to Peru comes under our conditions. If not, no.”

The controversy struck gay lawmaker Susel Paredes as “a complete absurdity.” A gender-neutral bathroom is just “another bathroom that has a toilet, nothing more.”

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Bathroom dispute threatens top OAS meeting in Peru