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

Mariano Ruiz – No matter where you are, you know someone is taking action
Mariano Ruiz – No matter where you are, you know someone is taking action
Heather Jaber 
While gay pride days occur on different dates throughout the world, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO) occurs on May 17 - a day to raise awareness to LGBT rights issues across the world. “May 17 is the day where no matter what part of the world you are,” said Mariano Ruiz,  “you know that someone is taking action in [over 130] countries today.” Ruiz, a participant of the most recent Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion, works to create calls to action for LGBT rights on May 17 in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In this region, he said, things are moving in a progressive direction, with countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Mexico as recent supporters of equal marriage rights. Ruiz touched on his own experiencing moving from a small village to the big city and how he learned the importance of communal pride movements that support LGBT rights. “Pride was the break point that made me change my mind to try and change reality.” Mariano connects with other activists in the region, maintaining partnerships and campaigning for equal rights for the LGBT community. He also works with the Argentinian Federation for Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transexuals (FALGBT) to campaign for passing bills on equal marriage and gender identity. To see the full interview, check out the clip below.
The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
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Danish Sheikh - Law was the sphere through which I broke my silence
Danish Sheikh - Law was the sphere through which I broke my silence
Heather Jaber 
For Danish Sheikh, being in law school meant not only a future career as a lawyer, but it also meant using the law to advocate for LGBT rights. “I feel like I came out as a gay man just before I came out as a human rights lawyer,” said Sheikh. “I feel like the two are very connected in my head." Sheikh works at the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, India, conducting research and providing legal support for LGBT initiatives, including the decriminalization of homosexuality.  At the third Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Danish led a group discussion on battling discriminatory laws, especially within India. Participants discussed methods for making laws irrelevant, identifying conflicting laws, and including various LGBT groups within the law. The biggest obstacle, said Sheikh, has been advocating for LGBT rights under a conservative government. One way to tackle this issue is to identify cases where the individuals from the LGBT community are being prosecuted under the law by requesting information from police stations. “We’ve always made the case that discrimination in LGBT sphere in India is a case of persecution rather than prosecution. Now we’ve started to actively go and find instances of prosecution happening.” To watch the full interview, check out the clip below.
The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
READ MORE...
Kasha Nabagesera - My motivation is knowing people follow my struggle
Kasha Nabagesera - My motivation is knowing people follow my struggle
Heather Jaber 

When Kasha Nabagesera landed the cover of TIME magazine’s Europe edition in June, she viewed it not only as a personal achievement, but as a way to garner attention for LGBT rights. “It feels great and incredible, but also for me it’s more than just me being on the cover,” she said. “It’s more of putting the visibility of the LGBT struggle around the world or the movement, because as much as they said it’s out of Africa, it carries stories from very many people around the world.”

The activist had been joining the meetings of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum since 2013 and shared her perspectives in many of the conversations at the third gathering of the Forum in June 2015. In November 2015, Kasha received Sweden's Right Livelihood Award, the “Alternative Nobel Prize” which recognizes those who do inspiring or courageous work to combat social issues. Since its inception 35 years ago, there have been 162 recipients from 67 countries.

Throughout the last decade, Kasha has used the judicial system to fight institutionalized homophobia and discriminatory laws in Uganda. She has also used the media, co-founding Uganda’s first LGBT publication and initiating media campaigns about LGBT issues. 

Of the Global LGBT Forum, Kasha Nabagesera said that learning best practices from other activists around the globe going through the same struggles has been very inspirational for her struggle. “Even just knowing that people around the world are following your struggle and they're supportive is also something that really motivates me,” she said.

To see the full interview, check out the clip below.


The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
READ MORE...
Rooi Teve - To succeed, we have to care also for ourselves
Rooi Teve - To succeed, we have to care also for ourselves
Heather Jaber 

While it is common for activists and NGOs to focus on the needs of others, it’s also important to remember your own basic needs as an activist, said Rooi Teve, a participant of the latest Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion

Worldwide, LGBT activists have to navigate between working within or outside of the system, often facing threats from those in power. At the forum, Teve led a talk on the experience of exiled activists and strategies to deal with the repercussions.

Teve touched on the tendency of activists to sacrifice their own health, comfort, or happiness to achieve big goals. “Everything revolves around the big goal vision you have,” she said. “The big goal is important because we have big hearts and we want the world to be good and happy...but it seems like we are forgetting to include ourselves in that vision. We’re thinking that we're doing this for others, and we're not doing it for ourselves.”

The session was inspirational, said Teve, because of the richness of the participants’ narratives. “There’s something about being so personal and being so open with each other, and just really sharing,” she said, “not trying to push any agenda but really sharing as human beings what it’s like for us to be doing this. And it gives the sense that we're actually doing this together.”

Teve works as a professional translator and interpreter to translate human rights and activist discourse. She has also been a spokesperson for the LGBT organization in Russia, Coming Out.

To see the full interview, check out the clip below.


The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
READ MORE...
Klaus Mueller - We are a growing network to reach full equality now
Klaus Mueller - We are a growing network to reach full equality now
Heather Jaber 
In an increasingly globalized world, both rapid progress and severe backlashes in the human rights situation of LGBT people are apparent, said Klaus Mueller, founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. To understand and contextualize these changes, a global perspective is needed. The Forum was established to bring leaders from political, legal, artistic, cultural, and religious backgrounds together and advance LGBT human rights across the world. Mueller founded the Forum with the inaugural Forum meeting in 2013. The most recent gathering, under the theme of 'Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion', took place in June 2015. “We are a growing global network with the explicit goal to advance LGBT human rights around the world in all aspects of life and to reach full equality now” said Mueller. He emphasized that the Global LGBT Forum today has members from 54 countries.  Mueller explained that the Forum is a personal network of trust that is slowly expanding and  developing into a long-term network to exchange expertise and life experiences. “The Forum is really guided by many voices, and I think that is necessary in a global conversation."   "What we do right now is that we connect on many different layers,” said Mueller. “We connect to governments, we connect to cultural new developments, we connect to religious communities, and I think that's the only way how real change can happen.” Not only do leaders come together to discuss rights issues, said Mueller, but regain energy, a sense of community and a shared understanding of the importance of their work. “We often get people who come and think what they do is not really that important, whereas all of us think that’s amazing what they're doing,” he said. “So we create a space in which we actually understand that these are the leaders to move forward on basic human rights around the world. And when they leave, they have the energy to continue and deepen their mission.” Mueller (www.kmlink.net) is an international consultant for museums, foundations, and NGOs and has been working on LGBT human rights for many years. He is an author, independent film maker (Paragraph 175) and exhibition curator, with exhibitions on the Nazi persecutions of homosexuals in the Netherlands, South Africa, and Germany. He is working as the European Representative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and consulted the Holocaust Museum on the inclusion of related materials in its permanent exhibition. He is also chair of Salzburg Global’s Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Initiative. For the full interview, check out the clip below.
Klaus Mueller is founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
READ MORE...
Monica Pisankaneva - LGBT people are common scapegoats to blame for social issues
Monica Pisankaneva - LGBT people are common scapegoats to blame for social issues
Heather Jaber 

When it comes to various social issues like increased social spending or poverty, said Monica Pisankaneva, a participant of the latest Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, the LGBT community often becomes the scapegoat. This stems from the lack of awareness about LGBT rights, she said. “I think the understanding of the importance of LGBTI equality is still not at a very high level in the political mainstream in Bulgaria,” said the Fellow.

Pisankaneva is chairperson of the Bilitis Resource Center Foundation Bulgaria, which works for LGBT rights and inclusion in Bulgaria. She spoke of studying in Amsterdam where she became interested in minority inclusion and LGBT rights. “This is where I became an activist in spirit,” she said, “and when I got back to Bulgaria, I became an activist in practice.”

The participant also spoke of the need for political support in efforts towards bottom up change. “My experience shows that bottom up work would be effective only if there is political understanding and political leadership to pick up what the activists are trying to promote.” Rather than working in a vacuum, activists need some sort of wider understanding.

That understanding may lie in the form of alliances, she said, such as research data for evidence-based advocacy, or relationships with international organizations which support human rights efforts. This, she said, may convince political leaders that LGBT rights must be dealt with.

Monica is also project manager at the initiative Towards Inclusive of LGBTI Students and Staff School Policies, where she researches school policies in Sofia to analyze protection levels of LGBT students and staff. She then provides recommendations for more inclusive school policies. Pisankaneva also works in as philanthropy development manager at the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation, introducing new concepts of local giving. 

For more about the importance of activism and broader alliances, watch the interview below.


The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551

READ MORE...
Victor Yang - We need to not only sit in the bargaining chair, but shake the table
Victor Yang - We need to not only sit in the bargaining chair, but shake the table
Heather Jaber 

While many institutions claim to also work for the marginalized, the reality is that many of these people are not involved in decision-making processes, said Victor Yang, participant of the third annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion.

“Who is at the table?” asked Yang, who is a community organizer and doctoral Student at the University of Oxford UK. “What I really would like to see, and have seen achieved in the past in rare instances, are those people coming to the table empowered not only to sit in front of that bargaining chair, but also to shake it so vigorously that the table actually falls over and that there’s a radical shift and change in power structure.”

Yang shared his formative experience of growing up as a person of Chinese heritage in the American south. “Seeing how discrimination, racism, difference manifested themselves very viscerally and personally growing up planted the seeds. I didn’t have the words to talk about it, but I definitely had the emotions with which to label that.”

Yang's research relates to these feelings of difference, and looks into the lives of low-income people of color within the HIV/AIDS movement. Specifically, his work focuses on the Philadelphia chapter of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and the impact of these types of movements in uprooting traditional hierarchies of power. 

Yang also works as a community organizer, focusing on anti-racist and street-level activism. He led academics from Oxford to launch their first summit on race equality. What is important in this type of activism, said Yang, is to make sure people are not being used as pawns or numbers for organizations, but actually "thinking about people in their own transformative potential."

To hear more about Yang's formative experiences and outlook on systems of power, watch the interview below.


The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551
READ MORE...
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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