LGBTQI Focussed MLP “Best in the Land” ; )

Meeting Dan Pepitone, Attorney with Legal Services NYC, makes you want to smile (perhaps suspiciously). There’s a glint in his eye and the hint of a grin when we talk about their MLP, run in partnership with Callen Lorde Community Health Center. I ask at the end of the interview whether he wants to add anything… .

“Only that it’s the best MLP!” he laughs.

It’s a case in point.

If the MLP between Manhattan Legal Services (a division of Legal Services NYC) and Callen Lorde is not the best (and it’s probably  well on its way), it is certainly one of the most unique – being dedicated to serving low-income Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) residents of New York City with HIV/AIDS.1

Healthcare Legal Partnership NYC (HeLP) comprises four key components:

1. Training health care providers, case managers and social workers about the types of legal problems that face the LGBTQI community.

2. Providing direct legal, medical and supportive services.

3. Identifying systemic barriers to the health of the HIV/AIDS community; and

4. Developing legal education materials.2

A recent example of systemic advocacy done by HeLP NYC is a collaboration with providers in NYC to combat LGBTQI and HIV / AIDS discrimination at New York City Human Resources Administration. Through this, HeLP NYC intends to affect “…institutional change in the way LGBTQI applicants and recipients of services are treated and change discriminatory policies like those which deal with changing a person’s gender marker [identifier].”3

Callen Lorde Community Health Care Center is a deeply inspiring service, and now institution, within the LGBTQI community. Their track record of excellence bodes well for this fledgling initiative, destined to become a gem, if not the jewel in the MLP crown.

Peter Noble

1. For a recent Australian example of legal needs analysis for the LGBTQI Community see the November 2010 report by Victoria’s Public Interest Law Clearing House, Equal Access to the Justice System: Report on Legal Services and Information for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Victorians.

2. HeLP NYC Protocol 2012.

3. Op cit.

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