This article focuses on the legal needs of low-income LGBT persons, the role of legal aid organizations in the LGBT community, and how attorneys can address the needs of their clients in a culturally appropriate and effective manner. Poverty rates for LGBT communities are comparable or higher than those of non-LGBT communities and LGBT individuals often encounter legal issues as a result of their sexual orientation and gender identity that may require an attorney's assistance. Common legal issues for LGBT individuals include disputes over their rights as legal parents; entitlements for same-sex partners under social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' benefits; and division of property after a relationship ends. Many transgender people may be unable to receive transgender-related health care through Medicaid or Medicare. And harassment and discrimination suits may arise due to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This article provides information for attorneys on how to address the needs of LGBT clients, including guidance on the culturally appropriate terms to refererence LGBT individuals, preparing for hostility from clients who had previously negative experiences with the legal system, and reaching out to LGBT partners.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.