Salzburg Global LGBT Forum » Overview

Humankind’s strength is its diversity. Free expression of sexuality and gender increasingly defines the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century. But progress is uneven. In 2011, the first UN Resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity was supported by over 40 countries. Yet in many others, governments still legitimize and sponsor violence against LGBT citizens through legal discrimination, condoned police violence and hate speech.  

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in 2013 to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance the LGBT and Human Rights discussions around the world. Its signature is the international representation of leaders from diverse fields – including human rights, legal, artistic, and religious backgrounds. Founded and chaired by Dr. Klaus Mueller, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum currently connects representatives from more than 65 countries (as of October 2016).

Upcoming events:

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Home:Safety, Wellness, and Belonging
May 14-19, 2017

Most recent session:

Building structures to support equal rights for LGBT people

Seminar and networking reception at the Embassy of Canada, Berlin, Germany, July 21, 2016

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion
October 2 to 7, 2016

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: LGBT Human Rights & Social Cohesion

June 14 to 19, 2015


Related News

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Calls for New Narratives to Combat Discrimination
Participants speak during a panel discussion on the power of storytelling through film and video.
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Calls for New Narratives to Combat Discrimination
Ian Mungall & Louise Hallman 
Community advocates, artists, filmmakers, academics, government representatives and human rights experts from across the world gathered in Thailand last week to explore new narratives to counter discrimination and stereotypes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and to promote greater visibility and inclusion. More than 50 LGBTI activists and allies from over 30 countries came together for the fourth annual meeting of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum, titled “The Many Faces of Inclusion”. Held from 2-7 October 2016 in partnership between Salzburg Global Seminar and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this year’s Forum aimed to enhance Asia’s role in global LGBTI dialogue, highlighting its unique legal, religious and cultural traditions regarding LGBTI individuals and their communities.   “Within the ongoing global discourse on LGBT equality, Asian perspectives have been underrepresented. We hope that our meeting in Chiang Rai contributes to amplifying the voices of Asian leadership. Global progress on equality for LGBT people will depend on advancements in Asia,” said Klaus Mueller, founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. “Throughout the Forum, participants shared their professional experiences and personal stories. Storytelling is a major tool for expressing who we want to be – and for changing hearts and minds.” The meeting focused on the themes of storytelling to communicate lived experiences of LGBTI people, international coalition building to advance inclusive development and promoting inclusive families that reflect the diversity of the LGBTI community.  Through open discussions, the Forum examined progress and challenges for LGBTI inclusion and identified potential entry points with government, academia and development partners for positive change. During the ‘Strengthening International Connections’ panel, ambassadors and lawmakers from Bhutan, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela called for stronger coalitions to advance common policy priorities, especially the need for comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, inclusive anti-bullying policies in education settings, freedom of association, and legal gender recognition for transgender people.  “Open dialogue between government and civil society is key to ensure the inclusion and protection of LGBTI people,” said Edmund Settle, Policy Advisor for UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “Ensuring civic and political participation in national legal and policy making processes will further efforts to address the discrimination and inequality that LGBTI people live daily.” Throughout the week, the Forum considered the importance of families for LGBTI people and communities. Discussions focused on the families that LGBTI people are born into, the families they choose, and the families they raise, with participants sharing their own personal stories within small groups. These stories will be collected for an exhibition, titled “Family Is…”, to be held in Berlin, Germany in May 2017. During the week, meeting participants reflected on how growing visibility of LGBTI people and communities has created opportunities for positive dialogues within their families and communities. However, participants also noted that increased visibility has the potential to lead to backlash, from the introduction of anti-homosexuality “propaganda” laws to abuse and violence towards LGBTI people.  Many of the participants noted that this anti-LGBTI extremism is often rooted in ignorance, with misinformation and false representations of LGBTI people and communities in the media. Empowering LGBTI people and communities to share their own stories through new media and emerging technologies can be a powerful and effective way to challenge this misinformation and educate wider society.  “Having been able to galvanize a movement with correct information to counter anti-LGBT extremism, we now have to share this knowledge and create allies to support our cause,” said Dennis Wamala from Uganda. Throughout the Forum, participants emphasized the opportunities that film, new media and journalism can have on communicating positive narratives to reduce stigma and discrimination and raise awareness for social inclusion throughout society. This also includes the use of social media tools to reach new audiences and address abuse and digital security. “There is a misunderstanding in society about LGBTI people. Film can be a powerful medium that can be used in advocacy efforts to correct distortions,” said Fan Popo, a filmmaker and activist from China.  “As a filmmaker and lesbian mom, I recognize that I have the responsibility to tell more stories about the LGBTI community and to help those people who cannot raise their voices,” said Cha Roque, a filmmaker from the Philippines. “I hope that through my films, I can take the fight for equality and acceptance a step forward.” The full report from the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum session “The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion”, complete with personal stories and recommendations for action, will be published later in December 2016. To receive a digital copy of the report, sign up for the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum newsletter: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/LGBTnewsletter   *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups. Media contacts: Louise Hallman, Editor, Salzburg Global Seminar lhallman@SalzburgGlobal.org  Ian Mungall, Programme Analyst, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub ian.mungall@undp.org  Salzburg Global LGBT Forum The challenges confronting the LGBT and human rights movements are no longer only national or regional. They are influenced by a multitude of factors at the global level. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, a multi-year series of Salzburg Global Seminar, is therefore working to advance civil dialogue through further developing an active network of global LGBT and human rights actors. Founded and chaired by Dr. Klaus Mueller, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum currently connects representatives from more than 60 countries. The Forum’s goal is to negotiate these interconnected global challenges and advance the free and equal rights of all LGBT people. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this session, entitled “The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion,” was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the Forum’s ongoing “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. For more information visit: lgbt.salzburgglobal.org     *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups. UNDP and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme UNDP is the UN’s global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP’s vision is to support countries in achieving the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion. Being LGBTI in Asia is a regional programme aimed at addressing inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and promotes universal access to health and social services. It is a collaboration between governments, civil society, regional institutions and other stakeholders to advance the social inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. The programme recognizes that LGBTI people are highly marginalized and face varied forms of stigma and discrimination based on their distinct sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. The programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. For more information visit: www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/operations/projects/overview/being-lgbt-in-asia 
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LGBT Forum Day 4 - Social Media Producers & Consumers
Enrique Torre Molina and Olumide Femi Makanjuola speak on a panel about social media and storytelling
LGBT Forum Day 4 - Social Media Producers & Consumers
Louise Hallman 
Much advice was on offer on day four of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum in Chiang Rai as panelists considered the power of social media – for producers and consumers – when sharing LGBT-related stories.  Panelists from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and Nigeria shared insights into their own experiences with social media, both from their personal and professional use as producers and consumers, and offered recommendations on how the other participants could better use social media tools and engagement tactics to share their stories, engage with their readers and viewers, reach beyond their typical audience, deal with abuse, and stay safe online.  Social media is ubiquitous in today’s world. A quick survey of the room in Chiang Rai showed that all but a small number (who had made the conscious decision to not use social media at all) were on Facebook, with many others using Instagram, Twitter and other regional services such as Weibo.  Knowing which platforms your prospective audience use is an important first step in developing a social media campaign, advised panel moderator, Laurindo Garcia, founder of B-Change, a regional initiative to share positive and representative LGBT stories that offers consultancy to other LGBT activists and NGOs.  Social media can be used to share opinions, galvanize support for an issue, prompt and direct action – and chronicle our daily lives, the latter of which is just as important as the other uses. Many of the participants shared that social media and earlier iterations of online forums had provided them with a safe space where they could be themselves and realize that they are not alone. Chronicling their daily lives on social media enables LGBT people and communities to show and live their truth, sharing a reality beyond fictional media representations of LGBT people in movies and TV or the limited perspectives shared in the mainstream news.  Social media can also provide a place to discover and encourage allies who might be reluctant to speak out in public. The #lovewins campaign after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage saw many allies as well as LGBT people take part. This can be important for LGBT people, as one participant shared in an anecdote from a friend: “My uncle knew I was gay but I didn't think he was supportive until I saw him share a #lovewins post.” The “social media bubble” is gaining a lot of attention as Facebook and other platforms use algorithms to show users what they believe they “like” – causing an echo effect that sees LGBT-content shown only to those who are already supportive of LGBT rights and making reaching beyond this bubble difficult. Using paid adverts that are targeted at users with anti-LGBT or more conservative interests might be one strategy. Facebook, Twitter and Google all offer opportunities to activists and NGOs to apply for grants to use their paid-for services (such as ads) for free, reducing the barrier to access. Many platforms also all have featured to report abusive comments and accounts. “Use them!” was a key point of advice from a panelist. As activists, there can be the expectation or belief that you must engage with those who disagree with you, but the relentless nature of social media engagement can be disheartening. “Stay healthy!” and block or report those who abuse you, participants were encouraged. Mobilize your followers to also report abusive comments and users.  These report/block functions can also be used against LGBT activists to silence them. One participant with extensive experience in personal and professional social media engagement had the following advice for different platforms, having spoken to representatives from each of the corporations: Twitter: apply for verification (the blue tick). Activists don’t need thousands of followers to do this and if awarded it can stop instant blocking if reported by anti-LGBT users.Facebook: ask other “legitimate” and well-recognized human rights groups to message Facebook on your behalf to vouch for you. This will also prompt Facebook stop enforcing an immediate block and get you out of “Facebook jail.” Google: apply to Project Shield to protect your website from negative reviews and reports in their Google Search. Staying safe online is a great concern of many LGBT activists. Some participants stated that they use pseudonyms or do share images of themselves online to protect their offline identities. Another simple piece of advice that was offered to stop hackers: use the two-step verification features offered by many platforms now. Many of the major social media platforms have LGBT staff and interest groups within their corporations; activists should try to cultivate a relationship with these groups. Social media campaigns with a clear purpose, strategy, with multimedia elements can be daunting and difficult for individual activists or small NGOs to pull off successfully. “Don’t try to do everything alone!” advised one panelist. Hire in experience if you have the budget. If you don’t have the funds, many organizations will work pro bono for causes they support.  Family Is... Throughout the week, the Forum has considered the importance of families for LGBT people and communities. Discussions have focused on the families we are born into, the families we choose, and the families we raise, with participants sharing their own personal stories within small groups. These stories will be collected for an exhibition to be held in Berlin in May 2017. Fellows also took time out of their discussions to take an afternoon trip to the nearby White Temple. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this joint Salzburg Global-UNDP session was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. The Being LGBTI in Asia programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional session support was provided by the Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Austrian Development Cooperation, Capital Group Companies, Dreilinden gGmbH, the Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship Fund, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Recaps and interviews with participants will be published on a regular basis throughout the session onlgbt.SalzburgGlobal.org and medium.com/being-lgbti-in-asia. You can also follow the event on social media using the hashtags #SGSlgbt and #BeingLGBTI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.
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LGBT Forum Day 3 - Storytelling and International Connections
B-change Founder Laurindo Garcia with B-change filmmakers and contributors taking part in the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum.
LGBT Forum Day 3 - Storytelling and International Connections
Louise Hallman 
The third day of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum in Chiang Rai, Thailand saw participants focus on storytelling and strengthening international connections with panels featuring filmmakers, lawmakers and diplomats. The Power of Sharing Our Lives Through Video and Film Representations of LGBT people and characters in TV and film have been increasing in recent years, but how do we make sure we have the opportunity to tell our own stories? What sorts of stories should they be – positive or negative? And who do we want to share these stories with? These were just some of the questions facing the panelist of filmmakers from China, Myanmar, the Philippines and Nepal.  “Filmmaking is a communication between you and the people in front of your camera, between them and the audience,” shared one of the filmmakers.  What we want to communicate is important. Films often reflect the personalities of their makers – the more positive they are the more positive their films are likely to be. One panelist admitted he had been accused of being “too positive” in his films, a series of which show LGBT people and their families’ acceptance – an experience not shared by all LGBT people. When asked what inspires her more – the negative stories or the positive – another filmmaker-panelist responded: “I want to tell the story of now.” That “now” may be negative or positive or constantly changing – the immediacy and genuineness of the film is more important than whether it is relentlessly positive or brutally negative. Queer film festivals are growing in the region with international networks forming to help promote such festivals in communities with less experience or success so far. However, these film festivals are still mostly only reaching a niche audience.  “When I first became a filmmaker, I was a lesbian but I never identified as a LGBT filmmaker,” admitted one panelist who has worked primarily in mainstream rather than LGBT cinema. “I thought that if I establish myself as a filmmaker first, then I can later make films that matter more to me – and my audience will accept me.” She added: “We don't want just LGBT people to watch LGBT films, we want the entire population to see our stories.”  Sharing these stories are important not only to help foster acceptance and understanding of those outside the LGBT community towards LGBT people, but also to offer reassurance to those within the community: you are not alone.   Rooted within the Family? A look at families, gender and sexuality in Asia Continuing with the storytelling and families themes of the week, a further panel on day three had participants from Bhutan, Cambodia, Korea, Nepal and India share their own experiences and country-wide trends and attitudes towards three aspects of our family lives: the families we’re born into, the families we choose to create, and the families we raise.  Family is important in cultures across Asia. In many countries across the region, it is typical for multiple generations of families to live together in the same house, leaving minimal opportunities for independence and privacy. Nepalese and Bhutanese participants told the international audience of their compatriots’ ancient beliefs that one cannot die in peace until one has seen the face of their grandchild. A family’s “honor” is important in countries such India, with certain behaviors or actions considered “dishonorable” and worthy of a variety of often severe punishments.  All of these attitudes can have serious negative implications for LGBT people, with a number of the participants sharing personal stories or anecdotes of how they or their friends have been cast out of their families for being LGBT. Many then seek to establish “alternative” families or “families of choice” that offer them the love and security they did not find with their families of birth.  “I have found an alternative family where we have love and care,” shared one participant, who had been cut off from his family and had at one point turned to sex work to help fund his university studies. His new family includes parental figures as well as siblings.  For those LGBT people who choose to raise their own families, legal protections are sparse in the region, leaving children vulnerable should anything happen to their biological parent – there is little guarantee that their deceased biological parent’s partner will be able to continue to care for them. Advocates are working to change the laws in many countries, but some communities, such as in Cambodia, have found legal support at lower, local levels, where a contract can be signed by two individuals agreeing to take shared responsibility for caring for a child, which is enforced by local village chiefs.  After inputs from the panelists, participants discussed the three elements of families in groups. These discussions will feed into their main thematic working groups being held throughout the week. The purpose of these groups is to encourage the participants to share their own stories and experiences of families – be that the families they were born into, choose to build, or raise – with these stories later becoming part of an exhibition to be hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in Berlin, Germany in May 2017. Strengthening International Connections Another key theme of this year’s Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is “strengthening international connections,” building on the Forum’s existing work of bringing together LGBT rights activists and advocates with government ministries, agencies and embassies to examine how they can collaboratively and independently work to advance LGBT rights in countries across the world. Bhutanese politician Ugyen Wangdi, Venezuelan politician Tamara Adrian, Canadian Ambassador to Thailand Donica Pottie, UK Ambassador to Thailand Brian Davidson, Swedish Ambassador to Thailand Staffan Herrström all spoke on the panel, moderated by Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia.  Read the full report of the Ambassadors’ Conversation panel here. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this joint Salzburg Global-UNDP session was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. The Being LGBTI in Asia programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional session support was provided by the Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Austrian Development Cooperation, Capital Group Companies, Dreilinden gGmbH, the Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship Fund, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Recaps and interviews with participants will be published on a regular basis throughout the session onlgbt.SalzburgGlobal.org and medium.com/being-lgbti-in-asia. You can also follow the event on social media using the hashtags #SGSlgbt and #BeingLGBTI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.
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Stronger partnerships are needed between government and civil society to advance LGBT-inclusive societies
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum founder and chair Klaus Mueller introduces the Ambassadors' Conversation panel
Stronger partnerships are needed between government and civil society to advance LGBT-inclusive societies
UNDP & Salzburg Global Seminar 
Government and civil society from across the globe must work together to identity strategic opportunities and leverage each other’s strengths to further advance the human rights and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, said a panel of ambassadors and lawmakers at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum this week in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The Ambassadors to Thailand from Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as lawmakers from Bhutan and Venezuela participated on the panel, titled "Strengthening International Connections," moderated by the Honourable Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. The panel was part of a week-long global forum on LGBTI inclusion with more than 50 advocates, artists, government representatives and human rights experts from Asia-Pacific and beyond, and was organized by Salzburg Global Seminar and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The panel agreed on the importance of building coalitions — be they within the LGBTI community, between the LGBTI community, governments and development partners, or with other civil society organizations that deal with other marginalized populations. Building these bridges, particularly with governments and state structures, can contribute greatly towards turning advocacy into legal reform and policy change. “In Bhutan, we are currently reviewing the legal provisions in Bhutanese law which discriminate and criminalize LGBTI people, and will be making the necessary recommendations for amendments,” said Ugyen Wangdi, Member of Parliament from Bhutan. “This opportunity [Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Asia] gives us a unique chance to learn about the needs and issues concerning the LGBTI community, and how us, as lawmakers, can make a difference to improve their well-being.” “An active civil society will likely further necessary progressive social and legal change that will advance LGBT peoples’ rights, health and well-being,” said Staffan Herrström, Swedish Ambassador to Thailand. “All citizens have a right to be treated equally in society, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The discussion highlighted how some governments currently address LGBT issues within their development and social protection priorities, and identified where further opportunities exist. It also noted potential entry points that civil society can use to further engage with governments and donors to improve access to policy making processes and LGBTI participation in human rights reporting mechanisms. “It was great to have such a wide ranging discussion from such a diversity of perspectives. Engagement across the three pillars of civil society, government and the donor community is essential to developing effective agendas for economic and social inclusion,” said Brian Davidson, British Ambassador to Thailand. “I will be taking back the lessons from today to inform the approach of my own Embassy in supporting the work of LGBTI groups in Thailand.” In the Asia-Pacific region, as in all parts of the world, stigma and discrimination are widespread in key aspects of LGBTI lives including employment, education, housing, and health care. While there has been significant progress, LGBTI people continue to face both legal and social barriers to equality and inclusion, which must be dismantled for these marginalized populations to fully enjoy their deserved individual rights to development and quality of life. Attention to these needs are essential if countries are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “It is imperative that the international community recognize that inclusive development has to address the barriers to equality faced by LGBTI communities,” said Donica Pottie, Canadian Ambassador to Thailand. “This requires strong partnerships between government, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders.” The challenges confronting LGBTI persons are not only national or regional, but also global. Developing an understanding of how the region’s successes and challenges relate to and influence issues at a global level is essential. The lessons that different cultures and experiences provide should be harnessed to advance LGBTI inclusion on the global stage. “Countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador in Latin America have made remarkable strides on improving the legal recognition of transgender people and their access to official identity documents,” noted Tamara Adrian, the first transgender woman to be elected to public office in Venezuela. “Opportunities to exchange best practices between governments and civil society across regions are tremendously beneficial for those working on the protection of transgender health and citizenship rights, but also broader LGBTI advocacy efforts.” “This session in Asia builds on a series of meetings and engagements of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum with numerous foreign offices and other government ministries and agencies,” explained Forum Founder and Chair, Klaus Mueller. “Continuously bringing LGBT human rights groups and government agencies together is vital for a better understanding of how both can collaboratively and independently advance equality and inclusion of LGBT people and communities.” “Today’s conversation between ambassadors, lawmakers and civil society highlighted that governments remain key partners in promoting and protecting the inclusion of LGBTI people,” said Edmund Settle, Policy Advisor for UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that marginalized groups, including LGBTI people are not left behind.” Media contacts: Louise Hallman, Editor, Salzburg Global Seminar lhallman@SalzburgGlobal.org Ian Mungall, Programme Analyst, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub ian.mungall@undp.org Salzburg Global LGBT ForumThe challenges confronting the LGBT and human rights movements are no longer only national or regional. They are influenced by a multitude of factors at the global level. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, a multi-year series of Salzburg Global Seminar, is therefore working to advance civil dialogue through further developing an active network of global LGBT and human rights actors. Founded and chaired by Dr. Klaus Mueller, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum currently connects representatives from more than 60 countries. The Forum’s goal is to negotiate these interconnected global challenges and advance the free and equal rights of all LGBT people. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this session, entitled “The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion,” was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the Forum’s ongoing “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. For more information visit: http://lgbt.salzburgglobal.org/ *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups. UNDP and the Being LGBTI in Asia programmeUNDP is the UN’s global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP’s vision is to support countries in achieving the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion. Being LGBTI in Asia is a regional programme aimed at addressing inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and promotes universal access to health and social services. It is a collaboration between governments, civil society, regional institutions and other stakeholders to advance the social inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. The programme recognizes that LGBTI people are highly marginalized and face varied forms of stigma and discrimination based on their distinct sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. The programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. For more information visit: http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/operations/projects/overview/being-lgbt-in-asia/
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LGBT Forum Day 2 - Visibility & Inclusion
Pema Dorji and Saska Wieringa at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
LGBT Forum Day 2 - Visibility & Inclusion
Louise Hallman & contributors 
Visibility and inclusion were repeatedly cited on the second day of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with UNDP and Being LGBTI in Asia, as Fellows shared knowledge and stories in panel and working group discussions. Can we measure LGBT inclusion? “Invisibility is not inclusion,” declared a speaker on the opening panel “Can we measure LGBT inclusion?”, which was chaired by UNDP Policy Advisor Edmund Settle.  If we cannot have inclusion without visibility, then one might assume that LGBT people and communities were not included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – none of the 17 SDGs explicitly mention LGBT people, communities or issues. However, as Settle pointed out, the SDGs have an inclusive “No One Left Behind” agenda, adding: “Increasing civic and political participation of LGBTI people is crucial to address inequality and discrimination in societies.” Indeed, Inclusion of LGBT voices is essential to achieve the not only the SDGs but also human rights for all peoples and communities. Recognizing the intersectionality of LGBT issues and health, education, social care, welfare, employment, etc., is important in order to advance LGBT rights as not only is socio-economic wellbeing is key to LGBT inclusion, but these intersections can also offer an important entry point into existing, further-advanced dialogues.  Personal visibility was also discussed by the panel as they considered not only the data that policy and lawmakers need to ensure LGBT inclusion, but also the stories than can help “change hearts and minds.” “Being proud and out is the first step to inclusion” especially for public figures, remarked one participant, reminding the audience that there are many more LGBT people in positions of power and influence in politics, the judiciary, and media, but many of them have not come out publicly (or even privately in some cases) yet.  However, as another participant pointed out: “Visibility can change hearts and minds, but also could put people in danger. Visibility is a personal choice.” Greater visibility can be achieved by ensuring that LGBT people and communities share their own stories – especially those that are positive rather than reinforcing the negative narratives commonly found in the media. The stories we tell should be relatable rather than abstract. Truth and Transformation In-keeping with that notion of relatability, three participants generously shared their own life stories at the session. With questions from Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Chair Klaus Mueller, the three storytellers from Bhutan, Syria and the Netherlands shared their experiences of growing up LGBT; the acceptance they did or did not receive from their families, friends and wider communities; the violence, rejection and persecution they have been subject to; and how these experiences have spurred them on in their activism and helped make them the strong and resilient people they are today. Please note, we respect the participants’ right to control over their own narrative. Short summaries of these life stories will be published with approval and agreement of the participants in question in the final session report. To receive that report, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bpToTn Knowledge Café As well as personal stories, participants also shared knowledge on the second day of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. At six tables, participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Argentina led a “knowledge café” that saw participants cycle through and discuss topics from across the region. Bangladesh LGBT Movement: Looking Ahead The Bangladesh LGBT movement that was growing strong despite the law and social taboos came to a complete halt as many activists went underground and some relocated abroad after the brutal murder in April 25, 2016. There is a deafening silence prevailing among the LGBT community, which is scared, scattered and more vulnerable than ever. This discussion saw participants analyze the situation and strategize a way forward to revitalize the movement. Intersectionality between Faith and SOGIEB and how to reconcile multiple identities To challenge people and the communities on how they define inclusion and visibility. Does visibility only apply to people who have already coming out with their sexual identities? How about people who are not able to share their belief just because their LGBTIQ communities don't want to discuss about faith and belief? Some people are struggling with their multiple identities whether to be a good believer or express their feeling for same-sex/gender attraction. On the other hand, there are people who have already accepted themselves but are prohibited to do their religious activities when they come out or are identified as LGBT people. Furthermore, their belief are questioned when they come out and identify as LGBT. Unfortunately, this also happens in our LGBT communities who are proud of visibility and inclusion. This discussion encouraged participants to embody their experience so that they have understanding on their authority to narrate, define themselves and also to help them to negotiate their diverse identities. Protective legal mechanisms for LGBT families in Cambodia Cambodia, like many countries, does not recognize same-sex marriages, which leaves gaps in legal protections for couples and their children. Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) gathered information on the LGBT communities’ legal protection needs regarding their relationships and families as well as legal recognition through a 2015 baseline study implemented in collaboration with TNS as well as through key informant interviews at RoCK’s events. In order to respond to the stated legal protection needs of LGBT families, RoCK has initiated a project call “Declaration of Family Relationship” or DoFR as a legal protective mechanism for them. Currently, this project is implemented in ten provinces, engaging both the LGBT community members and local authorities. Inclusion of LGBT community voice and legal environment in Gross National Happiness Country Bhutan, the “land of happiness,” does not share Western view of heterosexuality or homosexuality. Same-sex relations are illegal, and while the law is not widely enforced, many people still live in fear of persecution and even seek health services overseas to avoid detection. But the legal and social environment is changing, as laws are to be harmonized with the Constitution that enshrines the rights of all citizens regardless of “race, sex, language, religion, politics or other status.” This discussion considered how increasing the visibility of LGBT individuals and communities in Bhutan and finding allies can ensure the LGBT community’s voice be included in this harmonization process and broader positive societal change. Proud To Be Us Laos: A milestone event in LGBT community in Lao PDR “Proud to Be Us Laos” is a local LGBT initiative, with meaningful involvement of LGBT community and ally organizations in Lao PDR. It's an important initial step in gaining visibility and paving the way to discuss human rights of LGBT people in the Lao PDR, and has attracted interest from many international media and support from international partners. The table discussed possible solutions how to effectively adapt advocacy efforts to a sensitive local context based on the Proud to Be Us experience in Laos. Global and Local Advocacy: Making use of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum connects over 120 Fellows from more than 60 countries. How can those in Thailand connect with Fellows who have attended sessions in Salzburg, stay in touch with each other, and collaboratively join their voices and leverage their own networks to raise local and regional issues to the global discourse? This discussion saw the newest members of the Salzburg Global Fellowship consider existing and new ways to connect the whole Forum’s network and propose recommendations to Salzburg Global Seminar of how the network can raise awareness of LGBT issues, respond to atrocities and challenges facing the community, and advocate for LGBT rights the world over. Trans-Asian Perspectives Recap of this panel to come. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this joint Salzburg Global-UNDP session was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. The Being LGBTI in Asia programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional session support was provided by the Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Austrian Development Cooperation, Capital Group Companies, Dreilinden gGmbH, the Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship Fund, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Recaps and interviews with participants will be published on a regular basis throughout the session on lgbt.SalzburgGlobal.org and medium.com/being-lgbti-in-asia. You can also follow the event on social media using the hashtags #SGSlgbt and #BeingLGBTI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.
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LGBT Forum Day 1 - Solidarity & Diversity
LGBT Forum Founder & Chair Klaus Mueller welcome participant Anuj Rai from Nepal
LGBT Forum Day 1 - Solidarity & Diversity
Louise Hallman 
Solidarity and diversity were two key takeaways from the first day of discussions at the fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum, The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion. Opening the session, the first of the Forum to be held in Thailand and in partnership with the UNDP and Being LGBTI in Asia, a panel of speakers from China, Thailand, Nepal and South Korea shared insights on challenges and progresses in Asia-Pacific with an audience from the region and beyond. Legal progresses have been made in some countries, such as in Nepal where a third gender can now be officially declared in all government documents including passports. But legal recognition and protections are still lacking in many other countries in the region. For example, in Korea civil partnerships or marriage are not recognized, and in Thailand, a country with a highly visible LGBT community, gay adoptions are not recognized, leading one participant to share her fears of what might happen to her daughter if she were to die as her wife would not be legally entitled to continue to care for their child.  However, as one panelist rightly pointed out: “Laws do not guarantee equality... we need to look at the attitudes and acceptance of public and society.” In many countries, while laws were starting to offer protection to LGBT people and communities (albeit not all these laws are “inclusive, representative and consultative” of communities they're supposed to protect), societal attitudes have yet to catch up, with stigmatization and bullying prevalent, especially in schools where uniforms often constrain preferred gender expressions. To counter these legal and societal backlashes, there were calls from the panel and the audience for LGBT groups to join in solidarity with each other and build coalitions with other rights groups, such as workers’ and women’s groups, in order to advance all human rights.  “When it is cold, we need to all band together for warmth,” remarked one participant. The intersectionality of issues was also highlighted, as LGBT issues touch on many other areas such as bullying in school, access to relevant health services, discrimination in the work place, etc.  However, a counterpoint was also raised: in many countries vocal and visible groups within the LGBT communities (such as gay men in China and trans people in Nepal) have led to a conflation of identities, with the public and politicians mistakenly assuming that all members of the LGBT community are represented by and share the same problems as the more prominent “face” of LGBT people.  “As LGBTI people, we don't all have the same issues!” stated one participant, with another adding: “How can we show and include the many faces of LGBT people?”  As the session moves into its next four days of panels, roundtable discussions, working groups and intimate storytelling and sharing sessions, this question and how these many faces can be better included in societies – in Asia and beyond – will continue to resonate.   Congratulations! As Fellows arrived in Chiang Rai for the first-ever session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum to be held in Asia, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed its first independent expert to investigate the violence and discrimination faced by the LGBT community: Thai professor, Vitit Muntarbhorn. The fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is being held in Chiang Rai, Thailand in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Being LGBTI in Asia programme. Funding for this joint Salzburg Global-UNDP session was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. The Being LGBTI in Asia programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional session support was provided by the Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Austrian Development Cooperation, Capital Group Companies, Dreilinden gGmbH, the Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship Fund, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Recaps and interviews with participants will be published on a regular basis throughout the session on lgbt.SalzburgGlobal.org and medium.com/being-lgbti-in-asia. You can also follow the event on social media using the hashtags #SGSlgbt and #BeingLGBTI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.
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The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion
The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion
Louise Hallman 
Activists, legislators, and filmmakers will be among those gathering in Chiang Rai, Thailand this weekend for the fourth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum (October 2 to 7, 2016). Held in partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Salzburg Global Seminar, this year’s program will examine The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion and seeks to be a platform for enhancing Asia’s previously underrepresented role in existing global LGBT dialogues, highlighting Asia’s unique legal, religious, and cultural positions regarding LGBT individuals and their communities.  The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in 2013 to establish a global space to reflect upon and advance LGBT and Human Rights discussions around the world. Its signature is the international representation of leaders from diverse fields – including human rights, legal, artistic, and religious backgrounds.  The Forum currently connects representatives from more than 54 countries – with representatives from six more countries joining in 2016. After two successful sessions in Salzburg, Austria and another in Berlin, Germany, in 2016 Salzburg Global sought to expand the global footprint of the multi-year series by travelling to Thailand and partnering with UNDP’s Being LGBTI in Asia programme – a regional initiative to reduce marginalization and exclusion of LGBTI people. Of the 52 participants taking part in Chiang Rai, 32 are from Asia. As founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Klaus Mueller explains: “In the global discourse on LGBT equality, Asian perspectives are underrepresented. We hope that our meeting can contribute to amplifying Asian voices and we are excited to learn from and meet new friends.” Edmund Settle, regional Policy Advisor on HIV, Human Rights, Law and Sexual Diversity for UNDP in Bangkok and co-chair of The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion, added: “UNDP believes that for development to be effective, it must be inclusive. Therefore, we must proactively ensure that all marginalized populations, including LGBTI people, are encouraged and supported in achieving the full realization of their rights.” Through the five-day program, the organizers aim to foster open, strategic and focused discussions while examining progress – such as the changing legislation in Bhutan – and challenges – including the worsening security situation in Bangladesh – for LGBT rights in the region. Participants will identify concrete potential for further positive change in Asia, and share best practices from around the globe that can be adapted and adopted in the region. Recognizing that the challenges confronting the LGBT and human rights movement are not only national or regional, the 2016 Forum in Thailand will expand understanding of how the region’s successes and challenges relate to and influence issues at a global level. The lessons that different cultures and regions provide will be harnessed to advance LGBT human rights on the global stage, as well as bolstering individual participants’ future contributions at larger global conferences such as the 10 Year Anniversary Conference for Yogyakarta and the ILGA World Conference in Bangkok. Since its beginnings in Salzburg in 2013, the Forum has placed great emphasis on the power of storytelling, encouraging participants to share their own personal stories as well as sharing their professional experiences. Through telling and sharing original and authentic stories, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum seeks to challenge misrepresentations of sexual and gender diversity, and help understand the similarities and differences. Storytelling aspect is the cornerstone of the Forum’s ongoing project “Family is…”, which was launched in 2015 with support of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The project thus far has collected dozens of video testimonies and published a report on how members of the Forum view and experience families – both of birth and by choice. The project will continue gathering video testimonies in Chiang Rai, culminating in an exhibition in Berlin in 2017.  In addition to strengthening international connections, and promoting discussion on families and storytelling, the Chiang Rai event will also focus on the high visibility of the transgender community in Asia, and especially Thailand, including the progress made and the continuing legal and social challenges. Funding for this joint Salzburg Global-UNDP session was generously provided to Salzburg Global Seminar through a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to support the “Family is…” Project and through a donation by US philanthropist Michael Huffington. The Being LGBTI in Asia programme is supported by UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional session support was provided by the Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Austrian Development Cooperation, Capital Group Companies, Dreilinden gGmbH, the Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship Fund, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Recaps and interviews with participants will be published on a regular basis throughout the session on lgbt.SalzburgGlobal.org and medium.com/being-lgbti-in-asia. You can also follow the event on social media using the hashtags #SGSlgbt and #BeingLGBTI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  *LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.
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NEWSLETTER

 

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VIDEOS

Now is the time to create a Global LGBT Forum
Call to action by Global LGBT Forum Chair, Klaus Mueller

The core of being a trans person is about being oneself and transforming into who you are  

Think outside the box:
New ideas for LGBT philanthropy

Online security of LGBT activists in the Arab world:
How can you be safe online? 

My Love Knows No Boundaries
A poem by Elizabeth Khaxas

Sexuality in the Arab world 
and the shifting borderlines between ḥalāl and ḥarām

How artists shape our conversations 
on LGBT human rights

The lives of older Hong Kong gay men
as interviewed by Travis S. K. Kong


For more videos with our Global LGBT Forum members, click here