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 February 2017).

Most recent sessions:

Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging
May 14 to 19, 2017 (Salzburg, Austria)

Building structures to support equal rights for LGBT people
Seminar and networking reception at the Embassy of Canada, Berlin, Germany, July 21, 2016

The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion
October 2 to 7, 2016 (Chaing Rai, Thailand)

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: LGBT Human Rights & Social Cohesion
June 14 to 19, 2015


Related News

Bradley Secker – Portraying the lives of displaced LGBT individuals through photojournalism
Bradley Secker – Portraying the lives of displaced LGBT individuals through photojournalism
Nicole Bogart 
Bradley Secker is a British photojournalist, based in Istanbul, Turkey, who focuses on documenting the consequences of social, political and military actions from an individual’s perspective. One of his long-term projects – titled “Kütmaan,” an Arabic work for the act of hiding or concealing something – documents the plight of LGBT* asylum seekers in the Middle East. Secker attended the fifth gathering of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum - Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. Salzburg Global: Can you explain your work? Bradley Secker: “I’m a British photojournalist; I’ve been living in Istanbul for the last five and a half years covering the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia. I’ve been working on LGBT* issues professionally for the last seven [years]. This long body of work I’ve called Kütmaan, which is an Arabic word for the act of hiding or concealing something, which in this case is someone’s sexuality or gender identity. It attempts to portray some of the waiting and unknown aspects of being an LGBT* displaced person, on those grounds, and the wait for the next move.” Above: Both Syrian opposition (left) and government (right) flags are held together at Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride in 2014. (Photo Credit: Bradley Secker) SG: Why did you begin covering LGBT* issues? BS: “Nobody assigned me to do this work; it was purely done for personal motivation back in 2010. I had been to Syria in 2008 and decided to go back in 2010 with a professional focus documenting the situation for gay Iraqi men who had to flee from Iraq and ended up in Damascus and other parts of Syria. There was no editorial interest at that time, unfortunately. It was very difficult to get that story into the media’s realm. I moved to Turkey in late 2011, which is when I started documenting the plight of Iranians LGBT* [people] in Turkey, and, more recently, the Syrians and Iraqis who were displaced for a second time from Iraq to Syria and then to Turkey.” Above: Wissam Farhat, 26 from Damascus, Syria. Wissam is gay and waiting for resettlement to a third country after no longer feeling safe in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo Credit: Bradley Secker) SG: As a gay man, how do these stories affect you personally? BS: “The LGBT* work and, in general, with my everyday photojournalism work, the stories I hear and the things I see do affect me. Inevitably. I try to keep it as professional as possible and try not to get emotional because it can also trigger someone. It’s probably not good for them, to re-traumatize them, and it can also be difficult for me to hear, but its way more important to be more cautious about the person I’m interviewing. Collecting the stories is time-consuming, as I said; it's often putting myself in a place where I don’t feel that safe and I feel quite vulnerable. But I kind of put that aside and concentrate on documenting the people that face much greater risks, and continue to. [But] it makes me optimistic that LGBT* people are strong and united, and will always come together wherever they are in the world. They will form a community; they will find each other. It’s quite incredible, and I really find that inspiring. At the same time, it’s incredibly negative, in terms of what they are fleeing from and the conditions in a lot of countries. Now, in the recent past, and what looks like the considerable future, it’s not really getting much better. It’s a mixture of optimism, happiness and complete anger and madness at the whole thing.” Above: Danial, left and Parsa, right are a gay couple from Iran currently living in Denizli, Turkey. They are applying for resettlement in a third country through the UNHCR, a process which can take years. (Photo Credit: Bradley Secker) SG: What sort of impact do you hope your work will have? BS: “I’m not a big believer that photojournalism can change the world. I don’t think it’s that profound. Purely and simply I think the work I’m doing will just illustrate [the issue] and educate people. But together, as a more cohesive body of work, I hope it would stand as a documentation of the situation in general in the MENA region and Turkey for this period that I’m covering it. I really don’t think it’s going to change anything politically, [or] socially. It’s about collecting the stories; it’s about not letting them be lost and trying to document them because I don’t feel like there is anyone else doing it a lot of the time.” Above: Nasser, 29, a newspaper photographer from Baghdad in Iraq. Scars are visible on his throat and chin from what he claims was a violent attack perpetrated against him and his boyfriend. The attack killed his boyfriend and left Nasser near dead in a rubbish dump outside of Baghdad. (Photo Credit: Bradley Secker) *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities. Bradley Secker was a participant at the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. The session was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; the Archangel Michael Foundation; Open Society Foundations; Stiftung Erinnerung Verantwortung Zukunft; the Austrian Development Cooperation; UNDP; and Canadian 150. More information on the session can be found here: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/go/578.html
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Mónica María Leonardo Segura – “As a human rights lawyer I must be committed to ensuring dignity for all human beings”
Mónica María Leonardo Segura – “As a human rights lawyer I must be committed to ensuring dignity for all human beings”
Nicole Bogart 
Mónica María Leonardo Segura is an attorney specializing in human rights and the rule of law, including HIV and LGBTI rights, focusing on countries affected by conflict. Her work directly impacts her home country, Guatemala, where LGBT* individuals face systematic discrimination over their sexual orientation and gender identity. Segura, a participant of the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging – says this discrimination has become particularly dangerous for transgender women. “There are reports of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, extortion, often committed by armed forces, namely the police or the army,” she explains. “LGBTI people, particularly transgender women, suffer from transphobia, lesbophobia, and biphobia, and it’s the basis of a dynamic that excludes them from their families, from school, and from society in general.” That exclusion often pushes transgender women to no other recourse but to become sex workers, according to Segura, leaving them vulnerable to even further violence and to be more exposed to HIV. “We see throughout the Latin American region, and Guatemala is no exclusion, there is a prevalence of HIV in one percent of the population. For transgender women it’s 35 percent,” she says. “For men who have sex with men it’s 18 percent. So we can see from those figures an example of that exclusion and violations of human rights.” Segura works with organizations for transgender women to adopt legislation that would recognize their gender identity and autonomy, without subjecting them to physiatric evaluation or physiological tests, or requiring surgery. “It would only require a simple administrative procedure for their sex and names to be changed in official documents, as a means to have their gender identity recognized,” she says. This would allow transgender women to apply for jobs and pensions, open bank accounts, secure housing and generally “give them a way to express themselves.” But human rights activists and lawyers also put their own livelihoods at risk to fight for the rights of others; a reality Segura is no stranger to. “I believe that there is a danger to doing human rights work anywhere in the world, no matter where you are. The more you become vocal and visible in your work, there is a greater danger for governmental forces, or homophobic [and] transphobic forces to attack you,” she admits. “It can seem counter-intuitive, but I think the more you speak, and the louder you speak, the better protected you will be.” *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities. Mónica María Leonardo Segura was a participant at the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. The session was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; the Archangel Michael Foundation; Open Society Foundations; Stiftung Erinnerung Verantwortung Zukunft; the Austrian Development Cooperation; UNDP; and Canadian 150. More information on the session can be found here: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/go/578.html
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Lee Badgett – The reinvigorated state of LGBT* activism in post-election America
Lee Badgett – The reinvigorated state of LGBT* activism in post-election America
Nicole Bogart 
Discussing the notion of “home” wasn’t a topic Lee Badgett, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, paid much mind to prior to the 2016 presidential election, which saw President Donald Trump elected. Yet when faced with the question “What is home?” during the fifth gathering of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging – Badgett says she found a defiant answer in this changing political landscape. “We started thinking what if the worst happened? What is the wave of ugliness and hatred that seemed to be going on across the country? What if that built into something that looks more like what we saw in the 30’s and 40’s in Germany? So my wife said maybe we should think about moving,” says Badgett. “As we talked about it, the more adamant I was that [I wasn’t] going to move. This is my home. Maybe that is my definition of home – it’s the place I feel like they can’t kick me out of.” Despite controversy over the Trump administration’s stance on LGBT* rights, Badgett says activists within the community have found more motivation to stay on task and keep moving toward equality. “To go from having a president who was very supportive and did his best to facilitate making our rights real, we now have a congress and a president who don’t seem to care,” she says. “At the same time, activists of many kinds have been invigorated rather than intimidated. That gives me hope that we will be able to weather whatever happens. If it means holding on to our rights or pushing harder to extend them, one way or another it will happen.” Badgett’s current research topics include LGBT* poverty and employment discrimination. She is currently writing a new book examining the economic case for LGBT* equality, while her past research debunked the myth of gay affluence and examined the positive experience regarding marriage equality for same-sex couples in the U.S. and Europe. As a Fellow of the third Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum –  Strengthening Communities: LGBT* Human Rights and Social Cohesion –  Badgett credits Salzburg Global for enriching her research on LGBT* rights and economics. “It’s had a big impact on me to think about what the lives of LGBT people are like. What do we know about them; what don’t we know? This is probably an occupational hazard of being an economist, [but] when I hear a story I think that’s very powerful and reveals a bit of life – it’s also data,” she says. “If I learn from it, I think other people could too. But maybe then we would also want to know more widely how common is that experience; how many other people experience it; and where do they experience it more than in other places? It always makes me ask more questions.” Through her participation in the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum, Badgett has gained several connections which have led to projects outside the Forum, including research with UNDP on the LGBTI inclusion index. Connections with Fellows in South Korea provided the opportunity for one of her books to be translated and allowed her to facilitate talks in the country. She says her participation in the Forum has also provided an invaluable network of LGBT* activists she can turn to for research purposes. “I can actually ask people, and that’s really very important to me. To not be the helicopter social scientist, but to be engaged in work that is going to help people make change where they are,” Badgett says. “[The Forum] really opened up some interesting and important doors for me as a person, and as a scholar, to be engaged in new issues.” *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities. Lee Badgett was a participant at the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. The session was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; the Archangel Michael Foundation; Open Society Foundations; Stiftung Erinnerung Verantwortung Zukunft; the Austrian Development Cooperation; UNDP; and Canadian 150. More information on the session can be found here: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/calendar/2010-2019/go/578.html
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Joanna Ostrowska – Queer history is part of human history, and we should remember it
Joanna Ostrowska – Queer history is part of human history, and we should remember it
Nicole Bogart 
History often serves as a stark reminder of atrocities committed against the persecuted; their stories serving as an education for future generations. Yet, with ongoing concerns about the safety of LGBT* people in Chechnya, Joanna Ostrowska, lecturer on Jewish and gender studies at the University of Warsaw, fears some may have forgotten about the importance of queer history. During the fifth gathering of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging – Ostrowska discussed the importance of documenting the history of LGBT* people throughout the world. “Queer history, I think, is one of the most important things when talking about the community,” she says. “In Poland, we have this situation where everybody thinks that before 1990 queer history was some kind of myth. After 1990, because the ‘Western demons’ came to Poland, we [had] gay people, lesbian people, and ‘the others.’ Before it was like heaven for the heterosexual people.”  This “legend,” as Ostrowska describes it, is far from the truth; but she warns many influential voices in the country, including politicians, believe this so-called myth to be true. “I think the historical impact is a kind of education for us; not only for the minority but for the rest of society. This is [a] weapon to show other people that the queerness, the queer history, is not legend. It’s not ironic myth which you can use to show that somebody is different, or weird. This is a part of human history, and we should remember it,” Ostrowska says. Ostrowska’s research currently focuses on sexual violence in Poland during World War II, and forgotten victims of the Holocaust, with a particular focus on homosexual victims. She believes her research is of increasing importance in light of allegations of “gay genocide” in Chechnya, noting the allegations are reminiscent of paragraph 175 under Nazi Germany, which added homosexuality to the criminal code. “This is a situation that tells me we should remember,” she stresses. Building on the theme of “Home,” participants of the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum spent time listening to the stories of LGBT* refugees, many of which fled to new countries to seek asylum due to discrimination over their sexual orientation or gender identity. During the Forum, refugees from Syria, Ethiopia, and beyond, shed light on how difficult it is for an LGBT* individual to flee their home and integrate into a new society. These stories, Ostrowska says, are the future of queer history. “I’m really happy that people of the LGBT* minority are responsible [for] making archives. I think this is the most important thing; it was really important for me when I started researching the field of homosexual victims of the Holocaust,” she says. “We didn’t have enough materials.” Though the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum brings together LGBT* allies from all backgrounds, whether it be activists, lawyers, artists, or researchers, Ostrowska says her participation has helped her feel more involved in the LGBT* movement. “It was always a hard thing for me to feel like an activist because my work is somewhere else. I’m some kind of supporter – [an] ally – but I’m not an activist,” she says. “But after a couple of days here, I feel like I’m part of this movement.” *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities. Joanna Ostrowska was a participant at the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. The session was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; the Archangel Michael Foundation; Open Society Foundations; Stiftung Erinnerung Verantwortung Zukunft; the Austrian Development Cooperation; UNDP; and Canadian 150. More information on the session can be found here: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/go/578.html
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World Bank and Salzburg Global LGBT Forum call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT children
World Bank and Salzburg Global LGBT Forum call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT children
Nicole Bogart 
Being part of family is a fundamental human condition as well as a human right. All of us long to feel at home with the families of our birth, in the families of our choosing, and in the families we raise. Equally, we all have the right to live safely within the cultures and countries in which we are raised.  But being truly “at home” remains out of reach for many LGBT* people around the world. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people routinely face discrimination and exclusion from their families, cultures or even home countries. In celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the World Bank and the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum joined forces to call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT* children around the world. The Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum, formed in collaboration with its Founder and Chair Dr. Klaus Mueller and the Salzburg Global Seminar, was established in 2013 to advance equal rights for LGBT* people around the world. The Forum currently includes members from more than 70 countries, facilitating an open dialogue on critical issues facing the LGBT* community worldwide. For three years, the Forum has led the project “Family is…?” and for its fifth anniversary in 2017, Forum founder and chair Mueller unveiled the short film Family is…? -  A Global Conversation to coincide with this year’s IDAHOT theme of “Family”. The film weaves together personal testimonies from Forum members from more than 25 countries, that are also, in full, shown on the Forum's website. During the Forum, via video, Clifton Cortez, Salzburg Global Fellow and the World Bank’s Global Adviser for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), and Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Southeast Asia, shared insights into the World Bank’s research on economic inclusion of LGBTI groups. “Family is what virtually all of us care about first and foremost. In our families, we love, we support, we depend on each other. Straight couples and families do, LGBTI couples and families do,” said Zachau. “But, in Thailand, and in so many countries around the world, too many LGBTI people still face the lack of support, even in their own family. They face discrimination and they face exclusion sometimes.” World Bank research comparing the life experiences of 2,302 LGBTI people and those of 1,200 non-LGBTI people in Thailand, found widespread exclusion and discrimination among LGBTI individuals. “We found exclusion and discrimination at school, at work, when going to the bank, when getting credit – in many aspects in life. That exclusion is a big problem for the people who are concerned; for the gay, lesbian, bi, trans people,” Zachau explained. “And it’s a problem for society, because society loses the contributions of LGBTI people. And when LGBTI people face such challenges where do they turn? They turn to their families and their friends first and foremost.” The video message from the World Bank's IDAHOT celebration in Thailand for the 5th meeting of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum united both behind IDAHOT's message of family inclusion and reflects ongoing conversation between Cortez and Mueller on a closer cooperation on strengthening LGBT* equality through education and economic inclusion.    The World Bank’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) team has a long-standing relationship with the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum.  In addition to Cortez, who attended in both 2015 and 2016, several other members have participated in the Forum, including social development researchers Dominik Koehler (2017), Phil Crehan (2015), and Marko Karadzic (2013). Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, also shares a deep relationship with Salzburg Global Seminar, crediting her participation in 1990 with changing her career trajectory, from a researcher in Bulgaria going on to work with the World Bank and previous to that with the European Commission, where she was Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Air and Crisis Response. To celebrate these growing closer connections, and in the spirit of IDAHOT, LGBT* Forum participants shared the message of “Family is Love” with the World Bank, in support of its efforts to support greater inclusion of LGBT* people around the world. *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum uses this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities.
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Salzburg Global LGBT Forum screens “Family is…? A Global Conversation” at Berlin Event
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum screens “Family is…? A Global Conversation” at Berlin Event
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Fellows and representatives of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum presented the outcome of a three-year collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth during a special event held at the Ministry’s Berlin headquarters on May 19, 2017. Those in attendance were witness to the first public screening of the film “Family Is…? A Global Conversation,” directed by Klaus Mueller and produced by the Salzburg Global Seminar. The film weaves together personal testimonies from the 32 Forum fellows, representing 25 countries, that were captured over the last three years as a global portrait and that are also, in full, shown on the Forum's website. Dr. Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum says the hope of this cooperation is to “amplify voices from around the world, and help us understand the LGBT experiences in our families of birth, our families of choice and the families we raise.”  The film was well-received by those in attendance, with many in the educational sector volunteering to show it to their students in primary and higher education classrooms, a move lauded by Dr. Ralf Kleindiek, State Secretary of the German Ministry for Family Affairs, who himself offered to share the film with senior members of the German government. The collaboration between the Ministry and Salzburg Global Seminar, formed in 2014, aimed to highlight the global diversity of families from an LGBT* perspective. In his opening statement at the event, Kleindiek declared the need for equality for LGBT* families in Germany. “In 2012 one-fifth of all families with under aged children had single parents. Thirty percent of the families had a migration background. Ten thousand children grew up with same-sex parents. Families have become more diverse,” Dr. Kleindiek remarked, providing a summary of the state of family diversity in Germany. “Is the family endangered, destructed, or dissolved by diversity? I clearly say no.” In noting that while in Germany same-sex couples cannot marry and are not allowed to adopt children, Kleindik revealed that “eighty percent of participants in a January 2017 survey from the anti-discrimination office, indicated that most Germans are in favor of same-sex marriage and adoption rights.” Kleindiek said the “Family is…?” project will provide context into how international debates can change LGBT family discrimination in Germany, with the hopes to shift current legal practices often not compatible with the country´s constitutional law. Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Mueller exclaimed, “being part of family is a fundamental human condition as well as a human right.” The film produced intends to counter the message of “so-called traditional family values [that] are claimed to justify exclusion: of lesbian, gay, trans- and intersexual citizens from legal protection, of daughters and sons from their families, their neighborhoods, their culture.” The film's first public showing was followed by a discussion of Kleindiek and Mueller with Forum Fellows Kasha Nabagesera (Uganda), Tamara Adrian (Venezuela), Laurindo Garcia (Philippines), Tunggal Pawestri (Indonesia), Danny Ramadan (Syria), Sudeshan Reddy (South Africa), Dennis Wamala (Uganda), and Natalia Poplevskaia (Russia), led by Kleindiek and Mueller. Fellows shared their personal experiences and discussed the importance of progress on LGBT equality in Germany in a globalizing world, as well as the position of LGBT refugees and their diaspora communities.   The film and the interviews conducted for this project are available in 50 video clips for open distribution on the Salzburg Global Seminar’s YouTube Page.*LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities.
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LGBT Forum – A Sense of Belonging
LGBT Forum – A Sense of Belonging
Oscar Tollast and Nicole Bogart 
The fifth Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has come to a successful conclusion following an informative five-day program looking at LGBT* human rights under the theme of “Home.” Nearly 60 participants from all regions of the planet convened at Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss the significance of LGBT* people being able to live safely within the culture and countries they have grown up. During the session, participants highlighted experiences from their personal and professional lives as the group as a whole considered how to further advance positive change in the field of LGBT* human rights. They leave Salzburg having produced innovative social media campaigns to engage global communities on LGBT* families. Participants have also taken away knowledge and connections to use to their advantage in their home countries.   The German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth, which held the session in partnership with Salzburg Global, will host a follow-on event in Berlin on Friday evening. Guests will be welcomed by State Secretary Ralf Kleindiek. This event symbolizes the end of a three-year collaboration between Salzburg Global and the Ministry, which worked together to produce a video series highlighting the experiences of LGBT* people and the families they are born into, the families they choose, and the families they are raising. People who attend Friday's event will witness the official premiere of 'Family is…? A Global Conversation.' This is a short film produced from collected interviews. Moving forward During the final plenary session, Mueller outlined the Forum's growth and its plans for the future. Participants heard the Forum had become a space for people to retreat to and develop new ideas and connections. He reminded each participant they were a member, not a visitor.Mueller said plans were in place to organize another large gathering in the near future, but work could still take place at smaller events. He said the reason behind the Forum was for members to make use of it. The Forum now has five times as many Forum members as when it started, who can consult, coach and help others. Before the Forum came to an end, participants took part in an exercise where they made requests of others. This exercise was designed to show how Forum members could help one another and show signs of visible support. During this exercise, participants made requests for knowledge, technical resources, stories, and administrative help. Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine pointed to the organization's large network of Fellows and encouraged Forum members to reach out to them. A writer's discussion Before participants said goodbye to one another, they took part in two final panel discussions. The first of these plenary sessions concentrated on LGBT* writers. One speaker said he used to write and direct plays as a young child. He wanted to be an author when he grew up. He said, "It has been something which has always helped me." This panelist considered writing as his work and craft; a means to express himself and make money. He suggested his readers were able to put their own perspectives on his stories. He said, "They are finishing my sentences." This speaker, who started by writing short stories, changed his writing style as he grew older and put himself through challenging experiences. This made him realize authors had to have a far more extensive understanding of their characters, writing from an intersectional point of view. He told participants he was happy to be typecast as a gay writer. The second speaker asked for a typewriter when she was eight-years-old. Her parents thought she wanted to be a secretary, participants heard. Her journey to becoming a writer started simply by telling stories. Before she came out, her writing became a "secret home" for her and allowed her to plan for the future.  She told participants she never gave herself the time to write until she was in her mid-thirties. Her newfound commitment to writing occurred at the same time she acknowledged she was gay. One of her articles led her to meet her future wife. She said her writing was a "secret space" where she felt comfortable and safe, but it no longer had to be a secret. The third speaker said being able to write enabled him to express himself at a time he was coming to accept his sexuality. He felt inspired to write about the injustice he witnessed. Participants heard writing enabled him to challenge the mainstream culture and think about what guides people.  Creating communities “Today we are going to take a trip to each of your communities,” were the words that kicked off the second panel of the day, which saw panelists discussing how to create belonging in their communities. Each panelist began by reflecting on the importance of the community in which they live in and advocate for. Overcome with emotion, the first panelist recounted a story in which a man approached her crying during a pride event. “I’m sorry I’m late, he said three times,” she recalled. Later she would learn his child, who identified as transgender, had committed suicide. This loss had driven him to want to be involved with the LGBT* rights movement. “Our organization is small, but our community is big,” the panelist said. “We are strong. The ones that try to bury us can make us stronger.” Another panelist, who described his story as “an activist returning home,” recounted how he started an organization for gay professionals after discovering many of his gay friends had the same work-related concerns, such as where their pensions would go in the event of death. Another touched on the importance of fostering campaigns that promote togetherness; while another touched on the importance of discussing queer history. Panelists were pressed on how they decide when their community should be inclusive, or exclusive. The panelist who started the network for gay professionals noted that very debate was important in the implementation of his network because he felt gay men and women faced different challenges and concerns. The conversation then shifted to discuss how to strengthen our communities by motivating allies. One participant suggested rallying companies and community organizations to do something as simple as raising a rainbow flag during Pride to show support. “I would make a strong plea that we make alliances across all lines,” said the moderator.  *LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities. The fifth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging is taking place at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg. It is being held in partnership with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth. It is being supported by the Government of Canada. The Forum is a network of expertise through which conversations are facilitated to advance equal rights for LGBT people across the world. You can follow the event on Twitter, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #SGSlgbt. For more information, please visit salzburgglobal.org/go/578.
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NEWSLETTER

 

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VIDEOS

 

In the lead up to our fifth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, we're sharing videos from our session in Chiang Rai, Thailand last year.

This week's theme is ASIA

Founder and Chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Klaus Mueller explains why the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum met in Asia

Laurindo Garcia on the diversity and complexity of LGBT lives in Asia

Bao Chau Nguyen and Seakley Pipi Say on being happy & transgender

Thilaga Sulathireh on LGBT communities in Asia

Passang Dorji on coming out on TV in Bhutan and the progress made in his country since then

Cha Roque about being a lesbian filmmaker

Pema Dorji on being bullied in school