four transwomen were arrested for violating the British colonial era anti-crossdressing statute that for now is still in effect in that nation .
In addition to being stripped, disrespected, denied phone calls, medical attention, detained over a weekend, and fined
$7,500 under §153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act,
Chapter 8.02, they were subjected to a transphobic lecture by Guyanese Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson.
Robertson ridiculed them from the bench, lectured that they were men, not
women, admonished that they were confused, and instructed to go to
church and give their lives to Jesus Christ.
The transwomen struck back February 20, 2010 which happened to be the second annual observance of the World Day of Social Justice by filing a challenge to the South American nation's British colonial era law.
Veronica Cenac, a St. Lucian attorney who serves as the human rights
focal point on the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition board of
governors, lauded the Guyana based Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) for spearheading the case.
“For way too long, we
have allowed abuses against the most affected populations to go
unchallenged,” she said, quoting the closing words of UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's World Day of Social Justice message: “Lack of social justice anywhere is an
affront to us all.”
It's been almost as year since this challenge was filed, and we'll see how this plays out because like many areas bordering the Caribbean, the faith based homophobia and transphobia in Guyana, as evidenced by Justice Robertson's comments is entrenched.