120-Year-Old Guyana Cross-Dressing Law Repealed Unless Done for “Improper Purposes”
September 12, 2013 by Limor Finkel, Global Engagement Program Coordinator
On September 9, a judge in Guyana overturned a 120-year-old law that banned cross-dressing. Problematic to this decision was the inclusion of a clause that states that it is still a criminal offense when done for an “improper purpose.” This deliberately vague and undefined language has caused public outcry in the transgender community of Guyana, as police may still arrest cross-dressers and transgender individuals under legal protections.
LGBT and human rights activists in Guyana are appealing the decision to fully remove the statue, granting more protections for transgender citizens. Under the current law, people can be arrested for wearing clothing that simply express his or her personal gender identity in public.
Guyana is the only remaining country within continental South America where homosexuality is still illegal, and lags significantly behind countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay where same-sex marriage is legal.
For more information and resources on transgender issues, visit www.hrc.org/issues/transgender