CCJ expected to rule on Guyana’s cross dressing law

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 27, CMC – The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) says it is eagerly awaiting a ruling by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in a case challenging the constitutionality of a law that criminalises wearing attire of a different gender in public for an “improper purpose”..

The SASOD said that the CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, is expected to deliver its judgement on Tuesday at 2.00 pm (local time) in the McEwan and others v Attorney General of Guyana case.

In 2009, several trans women were arrested and convicted under the 1893 Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act of the offence of being a “man” appearing in “female attire” in public for an “improper purpose.” They spent three nights in police detention in Georgetown after their arrest for the minor crime.

One year later, McEwan, Clarke, Fraser, Persaud and the SASOD brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the law and the treatment of the appellants during the legal process.

The High Court of Guyana held that cross-dressing in and of itself is not a crime, but disagreed that the law was discriminatory or disproportionately impacted trans and gender non-conforming persons.

The matter was appealed to the Guyana Court of Appeal, and finally to the CCJ.

In June this year, the CCJ reserved its judgement after hearing arguments on both sides.

SASOD said that together with the Guyana Trans United (GTU), it will hold a news conference on Friday to discuss the ruling.