City firms launch LGBTQI Legal Aid Fund

updated on 04 July 2022

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Allen & Overy LLP and Travers Smith LLP have revealed a new partnership with LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) charity GiveOut to launch a new LGBTQI Legal Aid Fund.

The fund, which was launched on 30 June, is designed to support LGTBQI organisations to improve equality in countries where same-sex relations and trans identities are criminalised.

Will Samengo-Turner, a partner at Allen & Overy, said the firm has been “really inspired by GiveOut in their mission to support LGBTQI rights protection around the world”. Samengo-Turner added: “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.”

The Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in India and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya are among the first organisations that the LGBTQI find will support via funding and pro bono work.

The CLPR works to develop protection for the trans community through supporting litigation and policy research relating to trans rights, while the NGLHRC is focused on improving the LGBTQI community’s representation in society by creating a national legal aid response mechanism that can prevent and respond to discrimination.

Jayna Kothari, CLPR’s executive director says: “The trans community faces neglect from local, state and central government in the country. Although there is the protection of constitutional rights by the judgments of the Supreme Court, this is not being implemented on the ground the community still faces discrimination and stigma”.

Meanwhile, Danie Gerring, GiveOut trustee and partner at Travers Smith says: “I have had the privilege to see at first-hand how the work of Njeri [executive director of NGLHRC] and the NGLHRC improves the lives of LGBTQI Kenyans, as well as having had the opportunity to meet Jayna [executive director of CLPR] to discuss her ground-breaking work in India.”

Gerring calls for 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.”