Nagamootoo applauds CCJ ruling on cross-dressing

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Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo Monday called for robust educational campaigns so more persons can understand that individuals who identify as gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexuals or queer must enjoy basic human rights like everyone else.

He was at the time responding to questions posed by News Room about the landmark ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for Guyana to strike out laws that prohibit cross-dressing, in a society where there is massive resistance to the LGBTQ community.

Nagamootoo said social organisations must lead these national discussions but when asked about Government’s role, the Prime Minister admitted that more needs to be done, especially by the Ministries of Social Protection and Cohesion.

“The Government … has to find a mechanism through which to give teeth to the decision [CCJ ruling on cross-dressing],” Nagamootoo stated.

“I’m not aware of a coordinated blueprint for the translation of decisions with regards to cross-dressing but it’s something I think needs to be addressed.”

On a broader note, Nagamootoo said educational campaigns need to make the public aware that everyone is entitled to human rights.

Left to Right: Angel (Seon) Clarke, Gulliver (Quincy) McEwan, Peaches (Joseph) Fraser and Isabella (Seyon) Persaud

“Everyone has a human right. This is a human rights issue. It’s not an issue that you have a choice to decide who is a person entitled of respect and entitled to participate in the life of society.”

According to the Prime Minister, these campaigns should teach persons to be more tolerant and “accept that we have differences and that we are not all the same but we are entitled to the same rights.”

In a landmark decision on November 13, 2018, the CCJ ruled that the section of Guyana’s law which prohibits cross-dressing be struck out as it serves no legal or social purpose and inhibits the right to freedom of expression.

Five years ago, then Chief Justice Ian Chang had ruled that that cross-dressing by men, who identify as female, was not a crime but said that in so dressing it should not be for an “improper purpose.”

This still left those who cross-dress open to arrests by the Police.

As a result, Quincy Mc Ewan, Seon Clarke, Joseph Fraser and Seyon Persaud appealed the decision at the CCJ, Guyana’s final court.

The legal challenge began in 2010 following a Police crackdown on male crossdressers.

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