Guyana’s Chief Justice rules cross-dressing not a crime unless
What they received from Chief Justice Ian Chang on Friday was a taste of victory, but also defeat.
Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that while cross-dressing is not a criminal offence, those affected hailed the decision as a victory, they still say it does not prevent the Police from putting them behind bars.
The ruling by Chief Justice Ian Chang says that men can dress in women’s clothing, but this must not be for an improper purpose. He did not say what “improper purposes” are and so cross-dressers fear they could still be locked up. Men who cross-dress mainly work as commercial sex workers on the streets of Georgetown.
SASOD, an organisation which represents sexual minorities in the country, filed the constitutional challenge against the law in 2010. This was shortly after six men who dressed as women were arrested and briefly jailed for cross-dressing.
The law against cross-dressing is found among the section that makes homosexuality a crime.
The Chief Justice also ruled that the Police violated the human rights of the four litigants in the case during the Police crackdown in February 2009 and awarded compensation.
The Chief Justice did not believe the law against cross-dressing amounted to discrimination which would have been in violation of the Guyana constitution.
SASOD and the litigants plan to appeal the High Court’s decision.