Panama: Government Takes Step to End Quarantine Gender Discrimination
Protect Transgender People From Police, Security Guard Abuse
(Washington DC) – The government of Panama has taken an important initial step to address the discriminatory impacts of its gender-based quarantine measures on transgender people by communicating its concern to security agencies, Human Rights Watch said today. It has yet to issue guidelines to specify that transgender people may comply with quarantine measures in accordance with their gender identity, as Human Rights Watch recommended in a letter to President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen on April 23, 2020.
On May 11, the Public Security Ministry issued a statement noting that it “has spoken with the security sector to prevent any type of discrimination against the LGBTI population” in the implementation of Covid-19 related restrictions.
“The government’s statement is an important recognition of the discrimination transgender people have faced under the quarantine enforcement measures,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Panama’s leadership has expressed a commitment to address discriminatory practices by security agents, and we will continue to monitor the situation to make sure the new policy is carried out.”
On April 1, Panama put into effect a gender-based quarantine schedule in response to Covid-19, requiring women and men to remain quarantined on alternate days. However, as Human Rights Watch documented in a letter to the president, the measure resulted in police and private security guards singling out transgender people for profiling and, in some cases, arresting and fining them or preventing them from buying essential goods.