Highest Caribbean Court to Rule on Guyana’s Cross-Dressing Law

On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at 2:00 pm, Trinidad and Tobago time, Guyana’s final court of appeal, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), will deliver its decision in McEwan and others v Attorney General of Guyana, the case which challenged the constitutionality of a law that criminalizes wearing attire of a different gender in public for an “improper purpose.” The decision will be delivered at the CCJ headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and live streamed from the CCJ website: www.ccj.org

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.

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.

In 2010, the McEwan, Clarke, Fraser, Persaud and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (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. This decision was appealed to the Guyana Court of Appeal, and finally to the CCJ.

On June 28, 2018, the CCJ reserved its judgement after hearing arguments on both sides. The CCJ will deliver its ruling on the validity of Guyana’s law against cross-dressing on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

A joint news conference will be held by SASOD and the Guyana Trans United (GTU) on Friday, November 2, 2018, at 10:00 am, Guyana time. The news conference will also be live streamed.

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