CCJ to hear cross dressing appeal case today

…Guyana delegation confident of favourable ruling

A 15-member delegation from the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and Guyana Trans United (GTU) is currently in Trinidad and Tobago as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) prepares to hear arguments and seek clarification on submissions made in the appeal filed by four transgendered persons, who are challenging a ruling handed down by Guyana’s local courts which bars them from dressing in female attire for ‘improper purposes’.
The appeal was launched on several grounds following a ruling handed down by then acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in September 2013 which said that while the act of cross dressing was not a crime, when it is done for an “improper purpose”, it does constitute an offence. That ruling was also appealed at the level of Guyana’s Appeal Court, but the appellants did not have any success as the case was dismissed.
Altogether, the appellants: Quincy “Gulliver” McEwan, Seon “Angel” Clarke, Joseph “Peaches” Fraser and Seyon “Isabella” Persaud are also fighting the British colonial-era law, because they were detained, convicted, and fined by the then acting Chief Magistrate after their February 2009 arrest in Georgetown.
It, therefore, means that today’s hearing will also see oral arguments being made in the final appeal that is challenging the 1893 Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) that deal with matters Against Religion, Morality & Public Convenience which makes it an offence for a man “in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose” to appear in female attire, or for a woman, “in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose” to appear in male attire.
Speaking with  Guyana Times  on Wednesday from Trinidad and Tobago, SASOD Managing Director Joel Simpson said that those who were part of the delegation were confident that the case would be tried fairly and a favourable ruling eventually handed down.
“We expect to have the opportunity to clarify any points of our submissions that the panel of Judges may have … We would have filed submissions months ago … the hearing could be half day or whole day,” he explained.
Simpson said that the team felt strongly that the CCJ was the platform where they would finally have a fair hearing that was free from prejudice.
“We think that it will be a fair opportunity to have the case heard by an independent panel of jurists who are of high standing and a lot of the arguments that we are raising in this case are very novel to Guyana and the Caribbean, so it calls for a mature level of judicial intelligence,” he remarked.
Simpson said that the case was scheduled to be heard by a full panel as he explained that the recent rulings handed down by the CCJ have boosted the team’s resolve.
“Well, we are extremely confident and that’s why we filed the appeal. We think so far in the Region in a number of cases that CCJ is showing a track record of being independent in its thoughts while moving beyond the Caribbean and looking at what is happening in the wider world,” he added.
He said that the CCJ, appeared from its disposition, not afraid to make bold decisions and overturn decisions that were made by local courts as he expressed satisfaction in Guyana’s decision made years ago to make the regional body its final court.
The litigants are also fighting against the then acting Chief Magistrate’s conduct when she told the individual appellants that they were confused about their sexuality and should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, comments which they claim are inconsistent with our Constitution.
Nevertheless, many religious groups argue that the laws should remain intact.
The CCJ hearing will be streamed live on the entity’s website.