This Pride month, GiveOut alongside founding sponsors Travers Smith and Allen & Overy, are proud to launch the LGBTQI Legal Aid Fund.
Through the fund, GiveOut works with leading law firms to provide funding and pro-bono support to LGBTQI organisations using the law and courts to advance equality, including in those places where same-sex relations and trans identities are criminalised.
There are many legal barriers for LGBTQI people around the world who are seeking freedom and equality. 71 jurisdictions criminalise sexual activity between adults of the same sex and of these jurisdictions 11 impose the death penalty. At least 26 authorities use public order, vagrancy and misdemeanour offences to harass, arrest and prosecute trans people. In addition, 15 countries criminalise gender expression and/or identity of trans people through ‘cross-dressing’ impersonation and disguise laws.
Source: Human Dignity Trust and OutRight Action International
Working with local lawyers and international partners, LGBTQI activists are using the law and courts to:
- Challenge laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity and trans identities
- Advance legal protections against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity
- Challenge degrading and unfair treatment of LGBTQI people
- Uphold freedom of association rights for LGBTQI people to enable them to register organisations
- Protect and promote the rights of LGBTQI asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants
The Fund will initially support two organisations - the Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in India, and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya. CLPR are an organisation who engage in path-breaking litigation, and law and policy research that shapes the field of transgender rights in India. NGLHRC was founded in 2012 by six activists who sought to see a space in which the LGBTQI community was represented not only by their voices, but the legal frameworks that exist.
Jayna Kothari, Executive Director of CLPR says:
“The trans community faces neglect from local, state and central government in the country. Though there is the protection of constitutional rights by the judgements of the Supreme Court, this is not being implemented on the ground the community still faces discrimination and stigma.”
UK-based and multi-national law firms are supporting these activist groups with funding alongside pro-bono legal support, including legal research and training.
Daniel Gerring, GiveOut Trustee and Partner at Travers Smith LLP, who will be chairing the event on 30 June says:
"I have had the privilege to see at first-hand how the work of Njeri and the NGLHRC improves the lives of LGBTQI Kenyans, as well as having had the opportunity to meet Jayna to discuss her ground-breaking work in India. These experiences, amongst others, helped inspire the creation of our new LGBTQI Legal Aid fund, which I am delighted we are formally launching on 30 June. Both Travers Smith and Allen & Overy have shown much needed leadership in supporting the fund as founding sponsors and we would love other law firms and in-house legal teams to follow suit so we can best support the tireless work of LGBTQI organisations using the law and courts to advance equality around the world."
Will Samengo-Turner, Partner at Allen & Overy says:
“We have been really inspired by GiveOut in their mission to support LGBTQI rights protection around the world. The Legal Aid Fund’s focus on supporting access to justice work for some of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities around the world is crucial, given how challenging and underfunded this work is. We are looking forward to learning from the organisations we’re supporting and to seeing the impact of the funding.”