With cross-dressing officially removed as a criminal offence in Guyana, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination(SASOD) is pleased with the recognition of the ruling that was handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice three years ago.
In a statement, SASOD emphasized that there are still gaps in local laws that legislators need to fill by denouncing some other colonial laws that are seen as attacking minorities.
Two days ago, the National Assembly passed amendments to the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, removing cross-dressing as a criminal offence.
In welcoming the decision, Head of SASOD, Joel Simpson told News Source that more must be done locally to protect the rights of the LGBT community. He said there are many laws that remain that could be used to discriminate against members of the LGBT community in Guyana.
“While in that formal judicial setting there is no apparent discrimination, there are still issues on the streets with Police and other state actors using other laws, which are found in the Summary Jurisdiction Act as offences related to loitering, vagrancy and some offences related to sex work to target Trans-Gender People, who might be cross-dressing on the streets and other LGBTQI people. And, the targeting is done for some, for extortions really to extort financial or sexual favours from these groups of persons. So, that is still happening and we really feel what the Government needs to do to give full effect is to review the entire Summary Jurisdiction Act and remove not just crossdressing because the Court has already struck that down, but the other offences that violate fundamental rights and freedoms”, Simpson noted.
He added that many of the laws that remain on the books in Guyana have no place in the 21st century and should be completely struck down.
However, he said he remains hopeful that the other laws will follow the same fate as the one that made cross-dressing an offence.
“We also think that there is an opportunity with the Law Reform Commission that was recently appointed to have comprehensive reform and review of both pieces of legislation. So, we are going to be lobbying the Law Reform Commission to look at these issues”.
SASOD also intends to engage the Attorney General on a number of the issues raised.
In 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the law which made cross-dressing a crime was unconstitutional.
The CCJ instructed that the offence be removed from the laws of Guyana.