Peruvian Congress votes to host OAS summit after outrage over gender-neutral toilets

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A sign is seen on a gender-neutral restroom wall in New York, U.S., April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

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LIMA, July 15 (Reuters) – Peru’s Congress voted on Friday to host the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), after expressing outrage at the legislature’s initial decision not to approve the summit in due to the obligation to provide neutral bathrooms.

Peru’s Congress, controlled by socially conservative parties, initially rejected on Thursday the government’s request to host the regional body’s assembly in October above the requirements.

On Twitter, lawmaker Ernesto Bustamante, head of the Congress’s Foreign Relations Committee, said the OAS had “attempted to introduce (…) gender ideology” into Peruvian law.

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Peru, a deeply Catholic country, is among the most socially conservative nations in Latin America, with years of infighting between lawmakers and activists over whether the state should recognize multiple gender identities or just sex. organic.

Government offices in Peru do not normally offer gender neutral bathrooms.

The OAS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The theme of this year’s Assembly is “Together against inequality and discrimination”.

Foreign Minister Cesar Landa said on Twitter that the Congress decision “seriously affects Peru’s international image” and asked him to reconsider his position.

Luis Almagro, the head of the OAS regional bloc, said on Twitter that he agreed with Landa’s position, thanking him for the government’s efforts. He said he “hoped” the summit could still be held in Peru.

The largest congressional bloc, Popular Force, led by former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, voted unanimously to reject the OAS assembly. Fujimori has previously criticized the OAS for an election controversy.

Fujimori lost the 2021 election by just 0.2 percentage points and refused to concede for weeks, advancing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

At the time, Fujimori’s allies traveled to Washington to ask the OAS to audit the results. The OAS, however, declined their request.

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Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Alistair Bell and Tom Hogue

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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