Monday, 8 October 2012

International Anti-homophobia Legal Clinic--El Salvador

International Anti-homophobia Legal Clinic--El Salvador
 Seeks Legal Advocates

Great opportunity  with a new start-up international human rights NGO, helping shape its future, combating the spread of HIV/AIDS,  fighting discrimination in education, employment, medical care and the impunity of hate crimes.  The legal clinic in El Salvador will, for the first time, make justice accessible to the LGBTQ community.  

The Project:  The leading LGBTQ human rights groups--Asociación Entre Amigos (‘AEA’), as well as other LGBTQ activists, have expressed the dire need for pro bono legal services for LGBT persons in El Salvador.  This community is the most vulnerable, at-risk-population including transgender persons and those living with HIV/AIDS who are grossly marginalized and persecuted.  The need for pro bono legal services has been confirmed by a report on the human rights situation of the LGBT community--- Sexual Diversity in El Salvador July 2012, International Human Rights Law Clinic University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

Background:  Post conflict El Salvador is undergoing an exciting transformation after years of conservative Right Wing politics.  Through the new democratically elected FMLN liberal party, the country has real opportunities for strengthening the rule of law by asserting and defending the rights of LGBTQ.  We seek pro bono advocates to bring about historic change for the LGBTQ community in El Salvador's legal justice system through the work of this new Anti-Homophobia Legal Clinic (in El Salvador known as ‘Asistencia Legal Para la Diversidad Sexual’).

Duties & Responsibilities:  Assist in promoting Thematic Hearing for LGBT in OAS Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.  Work to solicit the American Bar Association or other international pro bono NGOs to and establish high-impact legal advocacy projects.  Help organize the first LGBT Human Rights Conference at the University of Central America (‘UCA’) w/academics, LGBT presenters, human rights advocates/NGOs, along with cultural activities—art exhibit, musical performance, poetry/literature film etc.  Assist organizing  Anti-Homophobia Day May 17, 2013 Celebration at the University and or other additional forum.  Help develop a LGBT Human Rights Training Curriculum and creating a panel of local legal professionals capable of applying internationally recognized protections for LGBT rights. This may include prosecutors, Supreme Court justices, members of the Ministry of Justice and Interior, NGO representatives and other policy makers and legal professionals in El Salvador.  Research & Writing Projects  including compiling a Human Rights Violations Report on documented hate crimes from currently available materials on the 47 (or more) hate crimes committed, in recent years, against LGBT in El Salvador.  An important facet of your work at the clinic is  Accompaniment  (‘acompanamiento’) of individuals looking to assert their civil rights  This is your opportunity to work one-on-one with members of the LGBTQ community wherein you accompany them to institutions and venues where they seek to assert their civil rights for education, health care and fair labor/employment.  Your advocacy efforts will be guided by an attorney from the Salvadorian bar.  You may choose to participate in Outreach Activities to LGBT & NGO community.  Other projects that are of interest to you are welcome and will be considered.
Your Qualifications:
·       Experience with HIV & LGBT issues
·       Able to work independently, and also as part of a team
·       Competence with Microsoft Office, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel & other applications
·       Highly motivated with energy and ability to multitask , Ethical and compassionate
·       Possess excellent interpersonal skills
·       Spanish language competency desirablebut non-Spanish speakers are also invited to apply
·       Self-starter, able to work effectively with minimal supervision
·       Sensitive to cultural differences, comfortable working with low-income clients
·       Skilled communicator with effective oral, presentation and written communication skills                 
·       Willing to work with people living with HIV/AIDS, including sex workers and those who may be terminally ill and who suffer severe discrimination, prejudice and stigma.
·       Willing to travel and live in El Salvador for the duration of 12 weeks minimum
·       Economically self-sufficient, as this is a self-funded position.
The Clinic opened in April 2012; positions are available on a rolling basis.  Applicants please send a cover letter and resume to Ana Montano, Director & Supervising Attorney--  with the Subject Line 'Legal Advocate for El Salvador'.   Please describe your international experience, Spanish language proficiency and preferred dates of travel. This is a self-funded position for attorneys, law school graduates, law students and others who have a passion for LGBT rights.                 
Benefits to you: Explore different kinds of legal work to help you figure out what you really want to do.  Gain International development experience, and ‘on-the-ground’ field experience & knowledge about human rights violations.  Have an impact and contribute to the protection of human rights in action.  Learn about LGBT & HIV/AIDS issues.  ­­­­­­­­­Make professional contacts and develop your legal career network.  Strengthen your Spanish language, and cross-cultural communication skills.  Work abroad with fun, intelligent, inspiring co-workers.  All legal advocates with the Anti-Homophobia Legal Clinic-El Salvador are encouraged to view their legal work as a dynamic factor in their agent-of-change activities through global human rights lawyering.  We a comfortable, secure, home stay program and there is the opportunity to attend an intensive Spanish Language program if needed.
* The Mission of the Legal Clinic for HIV/LBGTQ in El Salvador is to fight the spread of AIDS and promote the health, safety, dignity, civil rights and legal empowerment of HIV/LBGTQ, including children abandoned & orphaned because of their HIV status.
Intersection of Health & Human Rights:  The International AIDS Conference in Vienna 2010 focused on legal and human rights issues faced by the 'vulnerable and most at risk' i.e., LGBTQ persons.  It recognized the need of securing human rights to achieve medical access goals.

Challenges:   The AIDS Conference found that LGBT persons often have the poorest access to HIV medical care because of stigmatization and marginalization.  A panel 'Opposing Grave Human Rights Violations On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity' at UN headquarters, discussing arbitrary arrests, degrading treatment, torture and murder concluded that a major challenge in controlling the spread of AIDS in the Global South remains the social stigma and discrimination faced by these vulnerable, high risk groups.
Popular Perceptions in Salvadoran Society that Contribute to Discrimination & Stigmatization
·       81% believe that employers have the right to request HIV tests as a requirement to employment,
·       65% believe that children with HIV should be educated at separate institutions,
·       54% believe that God has punished prostitutes and homosexuals with HIV/AIDS due to their lifestyles,
·       51% state that people with HIV/AIDS should not be able to use public places.

Hate Crimes against LGBTQ & Lack of Legal Protection--Although the need for legal services is immense, there is no legal organization asserting the civil rights of LBGTQ in El Salvador.  By most accounts there have been more than 47 murders of gay men, transsexuals & transvestites.  In all these murders, no one has been brought to trial!  Many other LGBTQ are regularly assaulted, battered, threatened and shunned.  (See report ´La Alianza por la Diversidad Sexual LGBT de El Salvador 'a report on the aggression suffered by LGBT community in El Salvador between Jan--Sept 2009) 

The work of the Anti-Homophobia Legal Clinic--El Salvador includes: Advocacy & Policy--working with branches of the Salvadoran government and other NGOs to develop resolutions to human rights violations. Thus, improving the LGBTQ community's access to their civil & human rights.  Legal Aid--Our legal advocates, Promoters, and pro bono attorneys will provide legal counsel and representation to persecuted HIV/LGBTQ.   We aim to help the community navigate the legal process to access education, healthcare and employment rights and demand equal protection of police & courts.  Legal Empowerment—Our plan is to train members of the LGBTQ community as para-legal ‘promotores’, so they are empowered to provide basic legal advice and facilitate civic engagement within the community.  We also conduct Street Law-Know Your Rights education with the HIV/LGBTQ community and other social actors and services providers.  Social Movement Building --We are advancing the LGBTQ human rights agenda and planning to launch additional legal services offices in other Central American countries.   Strategic Litigation--The LGBTQ legal clinic will set legal precedent for human rights, through ‘emblematic’ test cases in regional courts as advised by the local LGBTQ community.                                                                                                                      

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