A group representing gays and lesbians in the conservative South American coun­try of Guyana is demanding the government remove a colonial-era law that bans cross-dressing in public.

In an affidavit filed late Monday, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination said the law is no longer relevant and violates people’s rights.

“These laws are unconstitutional and discriminatory against a social minority,’’ spokesman Joel Simpson said Tuesday. “We are seeing a pattern of more and more abuses by police.’’

Police did not im­mediately return calls for comment.

The group will pursue the case in the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice if it is struck down in local courts, said Simpson, who is a cross-dresser.

The affidavit also complains about a local judge who told a group of cross-dressers last year to “go to church and give their lives to Christ’’ after they were detained for illegally wearing women’s clothes in public, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In a letter sent last year to President Bharrat Jagdeo, several international rights groups said the eight men were ordered to strip. Several were placed in solitary confinement.

The men were charged under an act that also prohibits beating a mat in public and selling cattle in the wrong part of town.

They were ordered to pay a fine of less than $40 each.

“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,’’ said Seon Clarke, 29, who was among them. ``Life is tough for us because in Guyana because people think we are the scum of the earth.’’

While some islands in the Caribbean have laws against homosexuality, it is rare to find laws that condemn cross-dressing.

 

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