Salzburg Global LGBT Forum » Overview

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in 2013 to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance LGBT human rights discussions around the world.

Today it is an international network that connects over 150 Fellows in 70 countries across six continents, spanning multiple sectors, generations, cultures and sexual orientations and gender identities.


Read our new, 200-page publication, Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years, which chronicles the first five years of the Forum: the stories our Fellows have shared, the wide-ranging issues we’ve addressed, and the impact the Forum has had on individuals, institutions and ideas advancing LGBT human rights around the world.

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Bao Chau Nguyen - “I have become the leader of something”
Bao Chau Nguyen is a two-time Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, having participated in 2016 and 2017 in Chiang Rai and Salzburg.
Bao Chau Nguyen - “I have become the leader of something”
Nicole Bogart 

At 19, Bao Chau Nguyen is the youngest Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, but he’s already a key change-maker when it comes to LGBT visibility in his country. Inspired by conversations with Fellows at his first session, Nguyen founded Hanoi International Queer Film Week, the first legal queer film festival in his home country of Vietnam.

Under the theme “Pride Journey,” Nguyen and his team complied 23 films and documentaries from eight countries around the world, including films from LGBT Forum Fellows Cha Roque, Popo Fan, and Su Su Hlaing. The première event took audiences through a series of sub-themes, each designed to tell a different side of the queer experience; from questions of identity and discrimination, to love and acceptance.

Crediting the Forum for allowing participants to focus on their own role within the LGBT community, Nguyen said, “At other conferences I’ve attended, they always ask ‘What is your name?’ and ‘What is your organization?’ But here people ask me in the morning: ‘How are you?’

“Everything started here. I got the idea here in this Forum. I have done it with my friends. The film festival started here, it started not from ‘What organization are you [with]?’ but from ‘Good morning,’” he said.

Nguyen, an independent filmmaker currently attending the Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema, has been involved in LGBT activism for three years, focusing on development within his community, gender identities and reducing gender-based and sex-oriented discrimination and violence. As a trans man, Nguyen openly discusses his journey as a branch of his activism, sharing personal stories of his gender identity on social media.

For the young activist, participation in the Forum and the subsequent successful launch of the film festival have had an immeasurable impact on his self-development and self-confidence.
“Every experience I have here is personal, and, I think, the film festival itself is a big development for me. I was always the one who follows, I was never the one who leads. But after this, I have become the leader of something,” Nguyen revealed. “That’s very encouraging.”

Nguyen will continue to work as a member of NextGEN, an organization working for the LGBT community in Vietnam, with an aim to expand their network into the border Asian region. He also plans to continue to serve as program director of Hanoi International Queer Film Week for the foreseeable future.

“I would really like to have a fifth anniversary, like this Forum,” he laughed. “Cinema is something that’s so powerful and it can have a lot of impact on the audiences. I don’t want to change anyone with movies – it’s not something impossible but not something I really want to do – I want to give them a new point of view. Queer film festivals aren’t about LGBT – they are about diversity."


Bao Chau Nguyen on how Salzburg Global LGBT Forum inspired him


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Impromptu LGBT Film Festivals
Klaus Mueller introduces the filmmakers at the (Impromptu) Chiang Rai LGBT Film Festival in 2016
Impromptu LGBT Film Festivals
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Over its five years, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has had the pleasure of hosting several impromptu LGBT film festivals, complete with screenings and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. Several of the films featured have had their world or European première at the Forum.

LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps

* Gay and Grey –
a short documentary film
Produced by Travis S.K. Kong

I Am You: I Am A Picture Of You
Presented by Thilaga Sulathireh

The Riddle
Featuring and presented
by Tamara Adrián

Pink Mirror
Directed by Sridhar Rangayan

** Sanubari Jakarta
Co-Directed by Lola Amaria

Being Scene
Directed by Zanele Muholi


Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights and Social Cohesion

The Story of Iron –
part of the documentary Stories of Being Me
Directed by Popo Fan

CCTV Breaking News from a Homosexual China
Directed by Popo Fan

** Tamara
Presented by and based on the life story of Tamara Adrián

Harvest
Directed by Benjamin Cantu

Stories of Being Me
Presented by Laurindo Garcia

Mama Rainbow
Directed by Popo Fan

New Beijing, New Marriage
Directed by Popo Fan

* Because of Who I Am
Benjamin Cantu and Nils Boekamp

The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion

Family is… Highlights
Presented by Klaus Mueller

Stories of Being Me
Presented by Laurindo Garcia

Weekends
Presented by Jong-Geol Lee

Lam: Inside Out
Directed by Bao Chau Nguyen

The video 11,
part of the art project “Save The Date”
Presented by Wanja Kilber

Olympic Dreams
Presented by and featuring
Kasha Nabagesera

Pink Dads
Directed by Popo Fan

Love & Other Matters
Directed by Su Su Hlaing

The Story of Cha –
a part of the film series Stories of Being Me
Directed by Cha Roque

The Story of Nilu –
a part of the film series Stories of Being Me
Directed by Nilu Doma Sherpa

Toms: The Complex World of Female Love in Thailand
Directed by Watsamon Tri-yasakda

Home: Safety, Wellness and Belonging

I love you as you are
Presented by Jaewon Shin

* Visibility
Presented by Ta and directed by Helena Eckert

** What I Would Have Told My Daughter If I Knew What To Say Back Then
Directed by Cha Roque

The Fox Exploits The Tiger’s Might
Presented and co-produced by Tunggal Pawestri

* Family is? – A Global Conversation
Presented by Klaus Mueller

* Denotes a World Première 
** Denotes a European Première


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Building International Connections and Alliances
Building International Connections and Alliances
Klaus Mueller 


 “I came here alone, but I am back to Korea with global networks of LGBT organizations/individuals. I was very inspired by the participants’ stories, energy, idea and intellectual discourse. I will work to keep these connections alive and use them, so that Korean LGBT rights organizations can communicate with the world, embrace global movements that are suitable for our society, let global networks know the situation of Korea, and share our progress with them.”

—    Hyun Kyung Kim, Researcher, Korean Society of Law and Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Korea


At our fifth session in Salzburg in 2017, we celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), together with the president of IDAHOT, trans activist Tamara Adrián from Venezuela. Through video, the World Bank and the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum joined forces to call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT children – uniting both behind IDAHOT’s message of family inclusion.

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum deeply believes in making these connections, in extending our network and creating new lines of communication and cooperation. Within the ongoing global, yet strongly Western-dominated discourse on LGBT equality, Asian voices and perspectives are underrepresented. Convening the 2016 session of the Forum in Chiang Rai, Thailand, we came to listen and learn, using the gathering as a platform to amplify the voices of Asian leaders. With its booming demographics and economies, and resultant growing international importance, much global progress on equality for LGBT people will depend on advancements in Asia. As of 2017, the largest proportion of our Fellows come from Asia.

The discourse on LGBT rights might be becoming increasingly global, but progress and subsequent backlash are felt locally. By bringing together so many global voices to learn about each other’s local contexts, we hope to mitigate these negative responses.

To multiply its impact, the Forum regularly attracts the participation of leading human rights defenders including many transnational human rights organizations such as the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Front Line Defenders, HIVOS International, the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Foundations, Transgender Europe and the World Association for Sexual Health.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Global Advances, Local Backlashes

Profile: M.V Lee Badgett

Fellows' International Connections

IDAHOT - A Landmark Day to Raise Global Awareness

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Two Sides of the Same Coin - Global Advances, Local Backlashes
Public support from international organizations for LGBT rights in countries with a colonial past can be counterproductive as they are seen a further Western imposition, warned Paola Amadei, head of the delegation for the European Union to Jamaica.
Two Sides of the Same Coin - Global Advances, Local Backlashes
Louise Hallman 

The discourse on LGBT rights might be increasingly global, but progress and the subsequent backlash are frequently felt locally. By bringing together diverse global voices to learn about each other’s local contexts, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum hopes to mitigate these negative responses and advance LGBT rights worldwide.

That we are currently seeing huge advances in the recognition of LGBT rights in countries across the world is indisputable. But progress is by no means certain nor is it without its negative responses. In 2011, the first UN Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was supported by over 40 countries – yet in 76 states, governments continue to legitimize and sponsor violence again their LGBT citizens.

Increased global visibility of local LGBT communities has in some cases fueled further scapegoating and persecution, but on the flipside of the coin, as prominent African LGBT activist Kasha Nabagesera reminds Fellows, this approach “is helping us progress. Now you can’t say that we don’t exist.” She describes international networks as “our strongest weapon.” Local activists can work with international organizations to remind hostile governments of their obligations under international law.


Diverse voices

However, the key issues facing LGBT communities are not the same across the world. In the West, there is currently a push for marriage equality, adoption rights and legal recognition of gender identity. Yet in countries where homosexuality remains illegal, decriminalization is far more pressing than marriage rights. Speaking at the inaugural session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in 2013 – and echoed across sessions over the following five years – Fellows have expressed concern that the vocal Western campaigns for rights like marriage are distracting from other, for them more urgent campaigns regarding the protection of LGBT people from discrimination, persecution and violence. The Forum engages in ethical listening to develop a fuller understanding of different challenges and encourage joint learning.  

At each session, Fellows open up about their personal experiences. From growing up gay in a religious family in Hong Kong, to the struggles of family relationships post-coming out as transgender in the UK; from empowered lesbian theater performances in El Salvador to harrowing tales of “corrective” rape in South Africa. Some Fellows are able to be completely open about their stories and identities, having already publicly spoken out before arriving in Salzburg; some have to speak strictly under the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals once they return home.

Listening to each other helps us to explore and extend the diversity of approaches that are needed to address inequality the world over. We might live in an increasingly interconnected global world, but a global approach, without taking account local contexts, may not be the answer.


Unintended consequences

When in 2014 the UK declared it would make its foreign aid to Uganda conditional on its compliance with human rights norms, including abandoning its then-pending legislation on the further criminalization of homosexuality, many, especially in the West, thought this was a great advance in how to encourage the globalization of human rights. But these conditions did not take into consideration the local LGBT community. As Nabagesera explained in Salzburg, following the UK’s declaration, a gay man in Uganda was attacked by his neighbors who blamed him for the death of their daughter due to the lack of medicine in hospitals, which had previously been supplied thanks to UK aid. Good global intentions can lead to devastating local consequences if not guided by local leaders.

The stoking of the anti-gay fervor that led to the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda was in part due to the global influence of another group: American evangelical Christians. In response, as Dennis Wamala, vice-chair of the board of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), explains, SMUG have taken one particular prominent anti-gay evangelical preacher to court in the US (where he is based) for his role in the persecution. The case is ongoing. Within the Forum, we discussed how Western LGBT human rights organizations can confront such post-colonial export of hate by extremist religious congregations in their own countries.

In Jamaica, a country where homophobia is rife and the sodomy law a colonial adoption of British buggery laws, many dismiss advocacy for LGBT rights as “colonial,” and thus public international support for local organizations can be counterproductive, explained Paola Amadei, Head of the Delegation for the European Union to Jamaica.

In many ways, the Forum breaks away from simplified notions of a North/South divide and recognizes that progress has been led by many countries in the Global South. The groundbreaking 2006 Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity have inspired National Human Rights Commissions in Indonesia, Mongolia and the Philippines to review their legislation. In 2010, South Africa spearheaded the first UN Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (supported by Brazil and 39 other countries); Argentina passed ground-breaking legislation that recognizes the right to gender identity based on an individual's own feelings; South America became the first continent where a majority of its inhabitants have access to marriage equality; and, in 2015, Nepal introduced passports for a third gender – to name but a few landmark cases. These national and regional advances greatly inspire advances globally.


Alternative approaches

National narratives are frequently misleading, as Dutch sociologist Saskia Wieringa cautions. Societies and governments may take pride in their LGBT inclusion, or in their homo- or transphobia repackaged as “traditional values” but history shows there have been profound societal shifts in the treatment of LGBT communities. For example, while their national narratives might now have reversed, historical accounts show episodes of homosexual-targeted executions in the Netherlands and acceptance of trans people and same-sex relations in Indonesia. Deconstructing these narratives and presenting accurate local histories that show LGBT people have long been part of their communities can be a powerful step forward in reclaiming the place and impact of LGBT people and communities in their respective cultures. 

Other approaches proposed at the Forum have included: find allies and adopt a different language. As Ian Southey-Swartz, LGBTI program manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, somewhat controversially said in 2013: “LGBT organizations need to get over themselves!” Despite that sounding hostile on paper, his advice that followed was sound: strengthen your cause by allying yourself with other causes than can, in turn, advance your own. This approach was successful in the initial repeal of India’s sodomy laws, which was achieved through a broad-based coalition of interests including women’s, children’s and LGBT rights groups.

Another suggestion was: If LGBT groups are not making progress with human rights arguments, then they should instead present the economic argument for their greater freedoms. “The language of economics is more universal,” suggested one Fellow. Global, cross-border collaborations on research in this area can help support local arguments. In his explanation of how LGBT groups in Lebanon had successfully overturned the violating “anal tests” that were being carried out to “check” for homosexuality, multi-time Fellow Georges Azzi, co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese non-profit organization working on improving the legal and social status of LGBT people in the region, said their target had been the medical legitimacy of the tests, rather than campaigning on a human rights violation platform.


Global learning

In 2016, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Being LGBTI in Asia program,  the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum met for the first time in Asia in order to learn from rising voices and better understand the unique challenges and progresses in the region. In Chiang Rai, Thailand, Fellows agreed that the lessons that different cultures and experiences provide should be harnessed to advance LGBT 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 Adrián, president of IDAHOT and multi-time Forum Fellow, drawing parallels with Asian advances. While many LGBT people on the continent are enjoying growing rights and protections, Adrián’s own country has lagged behind. The widespread influence of military and evangelical groups in the state has kept Venezuela from following Latin American trends. “Opportunities to exchange best practices…across regions are tremendously beneficial for those working on the protection of transgender health and citizenship rights but also broader LGBT advocacy efforts,” she added.

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is global in its very nature (and name) but it highly values regional and local insights. By bringing together human rights defenders of many sectors, backgrounds and countries, the Forum seeks to encourage a trust-building and learning environment where Fellows can hear candidly what the situation is like on the ground for local activists, helping Fellows realize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when advancing LGBT rights around the world and avoid unintended negative consequences.


Sudeshan Reddy on cautious optimism for LGBT human rights globally

Michael Kirby on globalism with a reality check



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MV Lee Badgett - “I take a vow of never being a helicopter researcher again!"
M. V. Lee Badgett, professor of economics and two-time Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
MV Lee Badgett - “I take a vow of never being a helicopter researcher again!"
Nicole Bogart 

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum doesn’t only bring together activists. The Forum seeks to build broad alliances that include LGBT rights defenders and supporters across multiple spheres including law, politics, the arts and academia.

M. V. Lee Badgett is a professor of economics whose research focuses on LGBT poverty and employment discrimination, and she is writing a new book on the economic case for LGBT equality. A two-time Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, her past work has helped debunk the myth of gay affluence and examined the positive experience with regards to marriage equality for same-sex couples in the US and Europe. Her research also discovered that homophobia costs the Indian economy $31billion per year. Badgett’s third book The Public Professor: How to Use Your Research to Change the World gives practical advice to academics about engagement in public debates.

What has been your experience at the LGBT Forum?

It’s a little clichéd, but it’s opened up the world in terms of LGBT activism. I had met lots of activists at more ordinary conferences, but I never had the chance to get to know them as friends, to play ping pong, to dance and drink and have intense conversations over a meal. And everybody just wanted to engage, and I felt like I made a lot of connections and close friends over a short period of time.

Did this inspire your work?

For one thing, it made it possible for me to take a vow of never being a helicopter researcher again! I have no excuse now for doing a project on a country and not talking to someone I know from that country first.

The other thing was that I had a couple of projects and trips come directly out of conversations here. One involved working with UNDP to start an LGBTI Inclusion Index. I met Cliff Cortez here, who was then with UNDP [Cortez is now with the World Bank], and we had conversations in Salzburg about the need for better data and more research on LGBT people, and a few months later we started working together on aspects of that index. And we’re still working on it.

Someone I met here – Hyun Kyung Kim – wanted to translate a book [When Gay People Get Married] I had written into Korean, so she and a few colleagues worked on that and I ended up going to Korea for a book launch and did a bunch of public speaking there. On that same trip, another Fellow, Wei Wei invited me to speak at his university in Shanghai and arranged another talk at Renmin University in Beijing. The Beijing visit also included a tour of the LGBT Cultural Center with Xin Ying and a wonderful lunch with some of the other LGBT activists in their building.  So Salzburg creates a web of connections — one always intersects with another!

What other action have you taken with Forum members outside of Salzburg?

There was a Ugandan activist [Stella Nyanzi, an LGBTQ theorist and research fellow at Makerere University, Kampala] who had been jailed for about a month, so I reached out to Kasha [Nabagesera, Ugandan LGBT activist and Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum] just to see if there was anything I could do, and she recommended a petition and more pressure from international bodies. So a colleague and I launched a petition campaign and got at least 500 other academics to say this was a violation of academic freedom.

How would you describe the Forum to someone who has never been?

I get to hear people talk about the work that they do, and I get to know them as human beings at the same time — and that’s just something that doesn’t happen at other conferences.


Lee Badgett on the reinvigorated state of LGBT activism in the US


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Fellows’ International Connections
Fellows from the Philippines, Austria, Russia, Germany, China, USA, Australia and Bhutan
Fellows’ International Connections
Nicole Bogart 

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in 2013 to establish a truly 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. Through participation in the Forum, Fellows are encouraged to share their personal experiences and expertise of their local context, bringing these to a global audience – and to take these shared learnings back to their home communities.


“I believe one of the most important aspects of the Forum was that we were given a fantastic opportunity to network. I have now contacts to more or less every part of this world! In fact, Bisi [Alimi], from Nigeria, and I have discussed the possibility of establishing a West African support network. Obviously, this is not something that can be done overnight, but I am confident that we can create something good, one step at a time. Apart from that, we are looking into the option of an LGBT film festival, either here or in Nigeria, or maybe even both.”
Nana S. King, Project Manager, Deutsche Welle Akademie, Ghana

“When I came and saw the diverse nature of this Forum, and the diverse nature of the information coming in and the discussion, I got very interested, so I wanted to be part of it in the longer term… The Forum allowed me to highlight the advocacy work in my organization; to create networks in which we use for advocating our work. To add a voice to the general advocacy of LGBTI around rights in Uganda.”
Dennis Wamala, Director of Programs, Icebreakers Uganda

“When you bring so many diverse individuals together for a five-day period, how deep can your insights go? Quite significantly, as I found. I go back quite overwhelmed by the ideas I’ve picked up. To name a few: I realize how strongly I need to focus on evidence building vis-à-vis discrimination particularly when it comes to making an economic argument on exclusion. The radical possibilities of this argument have really opened up for me after the conversations we’ve had around it at Salzburg. I also see the need for broadening my activism to focus on solidarities across movements – discussions here have helped me think through how I can re-frame my positions in a manner to get more people on board. Finally, I must say I’m quite enchanted by the possibilities of using storytelling in my work in a more creative manner. I’ve also been gratified by seeing the manner in which academia can be integrated into activism, a personal ambition of mine which I now see new routes to achieving.” 
Danish Sheikh, Advocate & Researcher, Alternative Law Forum, India

“Apart from the high-estimated opportunity to spend time away from the daily work and routine, which actually works as a burn-out prevention mechanism, this Forum brought practical assistance to the activities that I implement within Russian LGBT Network. Several sections of the Forum were dedicated to the topic of LGBT allies. Within the mingles, we discussed approaches to attract new allies, different categories of the supporters or social groups that could be regarded as potential allies for the LGBT movement, and also how cooperation between the labor unions and LGBT movement is arranged (if any) in other countries. That helped me to generate new ideas for the future projects that focus on reciprocity development. I also had a chance to speak out on the fact of state-orchestrated mass atrocities in Chechnya in a safe forum, applying to some individuals directly to exercise concrete tasks for facilitation of the crisis resolution.”
A Fellow from Russia

“This program is unlike any other program or space for the exchange of opinion and experiences about the LGBT population and for addressing – in a global Forum – the problems affecting LGBT people in various continents and environments. We see a clear link between equal rights and citizenship. Through our exchanges we learn that hostile environments are affecting not only those directly targeted by hateful acts, but also the country in which such acts occur. Diaspora, lack of equal opportunities, bullying and discrimination have clear repercussions on the economy of the country in which such acts occur. I would therefore encourage you to continue to organize this kind of event, in order to promote a better world for us all.”
Tamara Adrián, Human Rights Lawyer; President, IDAHOT Committee, Member, National Assembly of Venezuela

“Getting to know advocates, researchers, film producers, photographers, members of government agencies and professors from 38 different countries was a deeply profound experience for me. Seeing how the advance of LGBT rights and equality can be so much more powerful and effective when we all work together, with shared objectives and strategies that involve advocates and allies in every field of study, gives me such renewed focus, determination and enthusiasm.  For example, stronger bonds with activists from Bolivia and Jamaica, particularly, fostered developing new collaborative projects that we apply for funds together.”
Mariano Ruiz, IDAHOT Committee, Latin America & Caribbean Outreach Communications Officer, Argentina

“Even though I had a chance to participate at many different international forums and conferences this one was exceptional… They were media representatives, professors, NGO activists, politicians and individuals who defend the idea of equality and justice for LGBT minorities. In addition, it was a group of people where each person had a personal story from which generations should learn.”
Marko Karadzic, Former Serbian State Secretary for Human and Minority Rights, Belgrade, Serbia / USA

“The Forum is truly a special gathering of some of the bravest and most committed people one can encounter anywhere.”
Sudeshan Reddy, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, South Africa


“This was my second time at Salzburg Global Seminar, and I feel a stronger connection to the global movement. As a writer, a big perspective is one of the most important things to me. Hearing so many different personal stories was an inspiration. I hope I will be able to work with some of my friends and Fellows at Salzburg Global to capture their stories in writing one day. As an individual activist in a complicated political environment it makes a big difference to have friends and networks who can offer help and support. It was also very precious to learn from others of their strategies around security issues. The session also gave me a clearer picture of myself and my own expertise which is a big boost to continue with my work here.”
Rooi Teve, Human Rights Activist & Writer, Russia / UK


Dennis Wamala on how empathy and faith inspire him to work against persecution of LGBT people


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IDAHOT – A Landmark Day to Raise Global Awareness
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Fellows mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17, 2017. The theme for the year was “Family is Love.”
IDAHOT – A Landmark Day to Raise Global Awareness
Nicole Bogart 

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was first marked in 2004 to raise global awareness of the discrimination, persecution and violence faced by LGBT people around the world.

Observed every year on May 17, IDAHOT is the single most important date for LGBT communities to mobilize on a worldwide scale. In its fifth year, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum marked the day by joining forces with the World Bank to call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT children around the world.

While 2017 was the first year that the Forum has come together to mark the day, it has had a long association with its organizers: IDAHOT president, Tamara Adrián has attended every session of the Forum since 2013, and in 2015 outreach communications officer for Latin America, Mariano Ruiz joined for the first time and has volunteered his expertise time and again to the Forum to further its own outreach, especially in Latin America.

“May 17 is the day where no matter what part of the world you are, you know that someone is taking action in [over 130] countries today,” says Ruiz.

For three years, the Forum has led the project “Family is…?” and the Forum unveiled the short film Family is…? A Global Conversation on May 17 to coincide with this year’s IDAHOT theme of  “Family.” The film weaves together personal testimonies from Forum members from more than 25 countries about their families of birth, their families of choice and the families they raise.

As Adrián explained in Salzburg, “The choice of IDAHOT committee to celebrate families this year was largely because we talked about families during the last [Salzburg Global LGBT Forum session] in Thailand.”

The video message from the World Bank’s IDAHOT celebration in Thailand, featuring 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, united both the World Bank and the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum behind IDAHOT’s message of family inclusion and reflects ongoing conversation between Cortez and Klaus 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 Fellows 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.


World Bank and Salzburg Global LGBT Forum mark IDAHOT

Mariano Ruiz on IDAHOT and an international call to action


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Building a Global Community 
The First Five Years

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Family is…? A Global Conversation

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