The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) on Wednesday launched a new initiative, which intends to offer free legal services to members of the local Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
SASOD said it has been providing informal legal services to members of the community over the years, but will now do so under the more structured paralegal services initiative for which the organization has secured funding.
The initiative will among other things provide legal support and services to vulnerable groups that can’t afford to fund themselves.
It will include a network of experienced attorneys who will be providing their services on a pro bono basis to the clients.
The initiative, which started back in December 2017, has already attracted several cases, including one that involves a transgender Guyanese woman who was removed from public transportation, allegedly because of her sexuality.
Offering more details on the initiative, SASOD’s Managing Director Joel Simpson said the initiative will also allow the body to act as mediators.
Additionally, there will be the organizing of community education and advocacy programmes to bridge the gap between the formal and often-distant justice delivery systems.
It will also focus on allowing SASOD to work closely with other non-governmental organizations.
“The intention of this initiative is to provide and address unmet needs of vulnerable groups and to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable populations to understand and act on their rights.”
Some of the activities that will take place over the next year include targeted outreach exercises and information dissemination, referrals to pro-bono Attorneys of the Guyana network of CariBono and consultations with key state institutions.
SASOD expects that through the initiative, there will be enhanced relations between the uniformed services and key populations, increased access of key populations to the legal system and the likelihood of justice and increased knowledge among key populations of their human rights and local laws.