Peru’s National Police force is coming under heavy criticism following the publication of a decree that authorizes expelling homosexuals from the force if they “harm” the institution’s image.
On Tuesday, a legislative decree was published in the official gazette El Peruano outlining disciplinary measures and sanctions for police officers. A long list of infractions are included in Legislative Decree 1150, including disciplinary issues, refusal of certain police services, ethics, and harming the image of the national force.
Tucked away in a section that lists infractions for harming police image, the decree bans officers from, “Having sexual relations with people of the same gender, that create a scandal or harm the institution’s image.” Homosexual officers who are regarded as breaking this code, will be forced to take early retirement, the decree says.
The infraction related to gay officers is in the same section and listed just below another regulation that rules that officers will be disciplined with early retirement if they “belong to a criminal organization.”
The decree, one in a package of amendments to the structure of the military and police forces, has been signed byPresident Ollanta Humala, Prime Minister Juan Jimenez and Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza.
Although the regulations has led to public debate, this is not the first time that Peru’s police have sought to crack down on gay officers. In 2009, under then President Alan Garcia, the Interior Ministry published a list of new regulations that included removing homosexual officers, the BBC reported at the time.
While Peru is a very traditional and “macho” society, the latest attempt to prevent homosexuals in the police force has come under criticism by opposition legislators, activists, and even members of Humala’s cabinet.
Women’s Minister Ana Jara came out against the regulation. “No one should be discriminated against on the grounds of on descent, race, sex, language, religion, opinion, economic condition, or any other feature,” she said.
Opposition lawmaker Carlos Bruce added, “The police officer is a citizen with a uniform, and as such has all of the rights that the Constitution provides and he has a right to a private life. When it [poor conduct] is with a woman they don’t throw you out, but with a man they will.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday, President Humala simply said that he “respects the institutions” when asked about the legislation. “It would be good if you consulted the police about the legislation,” he told reporters.