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City Bar Justice Center Launches LGBT Advocacy Project

The City Bar Justice Center has launched the LGBT Advocacy Project to provide direct civil legal services to low-income LGBT New Yorkers. Seed money for the initiative has been provided by the Tiger Baron Foundation.

In addition to screening clients and matching them with pro bono attorneys trained by project staff, the project will also network and collaborate with other New York-based LGBT projects and organizations to allocate resources efficiently and address unmet legal needs.

Directing the project will be K. Scott Kohanowski, a staff attorney at the CBJC, a member of the City Bar’s LGBT Rights Committee, and a board member of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York.

“While the LGBT community has won significant protections in housing, employment, public accommodation and the right to marry in large parts of the U.S., many low-income LGBT New Yorkers do not fully understand how these achievements can benefit them, or they face significant hurdles in implementing these new rights,” said Kohanowski.

Identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender may still carry a significant stigma at school, at home, in the workplace and when seeking housing or services. Elderly gay men and lesbians face the legacy of reduced income and savings due to historic work-place discrimination and are much less likely to have family-support structures as they age. Transgender individuals are twice as likely to live in poverty than the general population and it is believed that one in five have experienced homelessness since first identifying as transgender. An extraordinary 20% of homeless youth are LGBT and have a significantly higher suicide rate than their heterosexual counterparts. While marriage equality increases opportunities, it also raises novel questions about parenting, property rights and benefits, especially when the relationship ends or the couple travels to other jurisdictions.

Potential clients may call the CBJC’s Legal Hotline at 212-626-7383 to speak with a trained attorney.

 

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