The Society Against Sexual Orienta-tion Discrimination (SASOD) is outraged at what it says is the violation of the human rights of a member of the LGBT community, who was fined $20,000 by a magistrate for cross-dressing.
Nicholas Kissoon, 19, had appeared before Magistrate Leron Daly on Thursday at the Providence Magistrate’s Court, where he pleaded guilty to cross-dressing and was fined $20,000 with the alternative of three months in jail.
However, SASOD’s Managing Director Joel Simpson told Stabroek News yesterday that since Kissoon suffers from a mental illness, he might have been unable to fully comprehend the court proceedings. Added to that, he noted that Kissoon had no legal representation at the hearing. “The court system took advantage of him,” Simpson stated.
The charge against the 19-year-old stated that on October 14th, at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara, being male, he dressed himself in female attire in public for “improper reasons.” Kissoon was also arraigned on a charge that alleged that he assaulted his aunt.
Expressing outrage at the cross dressing charge and sentence, Simpson cited acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s 2013 ruling in the case of Quincy McEwan, Seon Clarke, Joseph Fraser, Seyon Persaud vs the Attorney General of Guyana
He explained that Justice Chang had ruled in 2013 that both men and women are free to cross-dress in public as long as the reason for doing so was not an “improper purpose.” However, what constitutes an “improper purpose” was called into question following the ruling and the human rights group had moved to appeal the “dubious decision.”
According to Simpson, two years have passed since the motion to appeal was filed and SASOD is yet to receive a court date. As a result, Simpson believes Kissoon should not have been charged or convicted of the offence as it is a matter that is still before the court.
Additionally, Simpson is of the opinion that the arresting officers handled the situation using a biased approach. This, he said, is based on the belief that the police fabricated the story of Kissoon attacking his aunt in order to make the charges against the young man stick.
Simpson explained that Kissoon, who is a regular client of SASOD, had visited the organisation just this past week to seek advice on how to deal with the constant altercations he had with his aunt and her family. He noted that Kissoon had sustained injuries, allegedly at the hands of the relative, and he was advised to have a medical report done. However, before that could have been done, Kissoon was arrested and placed before the court for assaulting the woman.
According to Simpson, SASOD had been trying to locate Kissoon since Thursday but was unable to ascertain his actual location as police officers were unwilling to assist the group.
As a result, SASOD was unable to secure legal representation for Kissoon.
Nevertheless, Simpson said, having now located the young man, SASOD is prepared to assist him in his court hearing, starting with securing a lawyer to appear on his behalf at his next court appearance at the Providence Magistrate’s Court on Monday.