(Georgetown, Guyana) The Court of Appeal today in an oral decision delivered by the acting Chancellor, the Honourable Carl Singh, confirmed the ruling of the then acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in the High Court that the expression of one’s gender identity as a trans person is not in and of itself a crime. However, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal, rejecting the appellants’ arguments that the law in question discriminates based on gender and violates multiple equality provisions in the Constitution. The appellants confirmed that they intend to appeal this ruling to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
In 2010 four trans women and one of Guyana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations brought an action challenging the constitutionality of an 1893 colonial vagrancy law found in the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act which makes it an offence for a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ to cross-dress in public ‘for any improper purpose’. The essence of the case brought by Gulliver McEwan, Angel Clarke, Peaches Fraser and Isabella Persaud and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) was that this 19th century vagrancy law is hopeless vague, amounts to sex/gender discrimination because it is based on sex-role stereotyping and has a disproportionate impact on trans persons.