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).

Upcoming events:

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

Most recent sessions:

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

LGBT & Human Rights - Day 4: Safety and Social Media
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 4: Safety and Social Media
Louise Hallman 
The debate surrounding the value and impact of online vs. print media concerns much more than just the LGBT community, but what does it mean for access to and distribution of content, LGBT identities and new social spaces, and what are the limitations? Moderated by Bahraini journalist Nazeeha Saeed, the panel on ‘Social Media and LGBT Identities in the 21st Century’ featured Jordanian author and blogger, Fadi Zaghmout; blogger Lesego Tlhwale from South African lesbian website Inkanyiso; and American, UK-based writer and broadcaster, Amy Lamé. All the panelists agreed they turned to online media as a place where they could share their content on LGBT issues - something unlikely to happen in the mainstream media, especially in Zaghmout’s native Jordan. But with online comes the decision: to anonymous or not. Both have their draw backs. Being anonymous might mean greater safety, but it can also carry less legitimacy and fewer followers, and thus less impact. Zaghmout started out his Arab Observer blog anonymously, but realized he’d have greater reach if he was “out”. He received threats following the publication of his book, Aroos Amman, making him question his decision. “For years I wanted my voice to be heard but when my book was published I got scared,” admitted the Arab blogger. “I have to remind myself why I am doing this,” he added. Tlhwale, together with some other like-minded South African lesbians, set up Inkanyiso.org to provide daily coverage of the lesbian community in the country after realizing that lesbians were only ever covered in mainstream media for either rape incidents or pride ralleys. “We have daily lives!” she declared, somewhat exasperated. Although Tlhwale has been targeted, she doesn’t blame her blogging - lesbians are targeted in South Africa regardless. For Lamé in the UK, being out was never a problem and on her former mainstream radio show for BBC London she and her male co-host would both talk about their female partners. Online, both blogging and podcasting however means she can focus on covering LGBT issues, with social media proving essential to spreading the word about her work. Online certainly gives opportunity to cover these less mainstream issues, avoiding dealing with hostile publishers and printers, but as another Fellow pointed out, it doesn’t stop a government from blanket censorship - or from gathering data to use again its population.
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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 4: Philanthropic Flavor of the Month
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 4: Philanthropic Flavor of the Month
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
For non-profit organizations working on less mainstream issues, it can often feel like your funding is subject to the whims of others. But if LGBT issues are flavor of the month with many donors and even in the corporate sector, how best can LGBT NGOs take advantage? Sitting in the sunshine on the Schloss Terrace, in front of the Leopoldskroner Teich, Geeta Misra, executive director at Indian women’s rights organization, CREA, had the following recommendations for those seeking funding: Think more politically and strategically;
  1. Speak to each other more - don’t compete, collaborate instead;
  2. Speak to the unconverted - this is an unprecedented moment of openness;
  3. Look at your own organization and ensure it is as inclusive as the society you hope to build;
  4. Become less reliant on foundations’ donations
Through the ‘conversation’ exercise, with input from absent Faculty Raj Thamotheram and Nicky McIntyre, more advice was shared, the clearest piece being that LGBT groups need to move away from the alphabet soup of identities and “suffering competition” between them to find opportunities to advance all their causes. Instead of focusing on moving their own of part of the LGBT community up the ladder of sexual hierarchy, which ultimately is a hindrance to others, groups should work to remove the ladder.
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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 3: Global Intentions and Local Consequences
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 3: Global Intentions and Local Consequences
Louise Hallman 
When the UK declared it would make its foreign aid to Uganda conditional on its compliance with human rights norms, including abandoning its pending legislation on the further criminalization of homosexuality, many, especially in the West, thought this was a great advance in how we encourage the globalization of human rights. But these conditions didn’t take into consideration the consequences for the local LGBT community on a day-to-day level. As the audience heard during the panel ‘Violence and Trauma: When does global outrage improve or endanger the safety and security of local LGBT communities?’, in Uganda, following the UK declaration, a homosexual was attacked by neighbors who blamed him for the death of their daughter due to the lack of medicine in hospitals. The key issues facing LGBT communities are not the same across the world. In the West, there is currently a push for equal marriage - led by Human Rights Campaign in the US. Yet in 76 countries, homosexuality remains illegal, thus in many places decriminalization is far more pressing than marriage rights. Some Fellows also expressed concern that the vocal Western campaigns for marriage is distracting from other, perhaps more urgent campaigns for LGBT rights. We might live in an increasingly global world, but a global approach, without taking account local contexts, may not be the answer.
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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 3: Allies and Alliances
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 3: Allies and Alliances
Louise Hallman 
In a panel ‘conversation’ on ‘What do local organizations really need?’, speaker Ian Southey-Swartz somewhat controversially said: “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. As had already been highlighted in the example of repealing India’s sodomy laws, which had been achieved through a broad-base coalition of interests including women’s, children’s and LGBT rights groups, Southey-Schwartz urged the LGBT activists in the room that if they not only wanted to advance their cause but also receive greater funding from grant-makers, they should broaden their focus. “Your agenda can’t always be LGBT because in some situations it will take you nowhere,” he said. Instead, he advised, LGBT rights groups should be pushing also for greater women’s rights, as that should also advance the rights of lesbians and tran-women, as well as all men; “Women are not the only ones to benefit from greater women’s rights!” He also advised LGBT groups to make sure their voices are heard on other pertinent issues such as food security. But, as one Fellow pointed out, “If we don’t speak up for us, who will?” Another suggestion to come out of the conversation, which also featured Georges Azzi, from Lebanon and Samira Montiel, from Nicaragua, was: If LGBT groups are to continue and be successful in advancing the human rights of LGBT people, then perhaps instead of focusing on human rights, groups should instead present the economic argument for their greater freedoms. “The language of economics is more universal,” suggested one Fellow, especially as human rights rhetoric from Western nations can be seen as an ‘imperial’, non-indiginous imposition to some Global South governments. 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, Azzi said their target had been the medical legitimacy of the tests, rather than campaigning on a human rights violation platform. “Find the weak spots,” he advised.
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First musings of Salzburg Statement underway
First musings of Salzburg Statement underway
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
The first recommendations for incorporation into the Salzburg Statement on LGBT and Human Rights are in! But despite the lengthy drafting process as panel moderators send in their recommendations and Fellows spend hours in working groups hashing out their ideas on the various aspects to be incorporated into the Statement, Session Chair Klaus Mueller was keen to remind everyone: “This is not a UN resolution!” Unlike a UN resolution, the Salzburg Statement is supposed to be a collection of shared principles – not directives for signatories to follow. So far recommendations have come in from the moderators of the panel on ‘The rule of law, international institutions and LGBT human rights’, ‘Multiple Discrimination against and within LGBT communities’ and ‘What do local organizations really need?’ The rule of law, international institutions and LGBT human rights
  1. Donor countries should be careful when linking aid conditionalities to LGBT rights. This can – and has – backfired in the past.
  2. Western donors should not be prescriptive and should understand local contexts and listen to the advice of local organizations on the ground. ‘Parachuting’ in and dictating approaches and strategies is not a conducive means of engagement.
  3. Action by progressive states at the United Nations is important because a global minimum standard is then set. This, theoretically, trickles down to regional and then national levels. Furthermore, what is achieved at the UN must be protected and this too requires ongoing engagement.
Multiple Discrimination against and within LGBT communities - What data do we have and what is still missing?
  1. It is essential that the United Nations and its entities set up groups or workforces which are designed to address human rights issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  2. It is essential that the United Nations and its entities carry out a worldwide survey into the human rights situations confronting LGBT people across the world. Special reference should be given to methodologies that are to be used.
  3. It is essential that the United Nations and its entities incorporate gender identity into documenting and monitoring human rights violations around the world.
What do local organizations really need?
  1. Alliance-building. There is too much “navel-gazing” and LGBT organizations need to move beyond silos and build allies with other movements and causes.
  2. There should be a willingness and an ability to learn from other movements so that best practice is shared.
  3. There is increasingly the need to move beyond the human rights discourse towards the economic discourse. New emerging economic powers have little appreciation of human rights and the LGBT movements need to take this into account in their planning.
The Salzburg Fellows will continue to discuss the different elements of the Statement in their themed groups on Wednesday before deciding on the final text on Thursday.
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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 2: Culture and Resilience
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 2: Culture and Resilience
Louise Hallman 
In a change to the regular Salzburg Global Seminar panel discussions, Fellows were invited on Tuesday to share their artistic sides with an Open Forum on the topic of ‘Culture and Resilience’. Hosted by UK-based American cabaret artist and broadcaster Amy Lamé, Fellows from across the world showed films, read poetry and novel excerpts, sang songs and gave short presentations inspired by their work with and identity as LGBT people. Fadi Zaghmout, author and blogger from Jordan, read an English translation of his Arabic novel Aroos Amman. Elizabeth Khaxas from Namibia and Jo Shaw from the UK both shared their poetry about being a lesbian and a woman with a trans past, respectively, and a number of short video clips and photoreels were shown, including a cartoon about embracing diversity in Burma, oral histories of 'gay elders' in Hong Kong, and a lesbian theater project in El Salvador. Below are some examples of our Fellows work. Hella...hella Our daughter has come home Hella...hella The one who has been cast away is home let us dance and rejoice today Shame on those who do not acknowledge my daughter's homecoming The African! Shame on those who treated my daughter as the stepchild of this continent Lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, heterosexual... The image of the goddess, all of them... Sons and daughter of Africa Gods and goddesses! Much beloved, know that nothing will separate you from the love which is you No homophobic dictators No rejecting parents and siblings No religion No sodomy law What took you so long to find your way home, daughter? We have prepared a feast for you Let all the world behold Our daughter has arrived The lesbian The African lesbian Sela...sela... Africa rejoice! - Elizabeth Khaxas I am You, a trans ally video from Malaysia The Riddle, by the UN Human Rights Office
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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 1: The pros and cons of a unified international approach
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 1: The pros and cons of a unified international approach
Louise Hallman 
The “biblical” rain kept away Michael Loening, German Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner, one of the panelists for the opening discussion, but in his and many other stranded Fellows’ absence, those who could be in Salzburg ploughed on regardless with the opening discussion. Tackling ‘The Rule of Law, International Institutions and LGBT Human Rights: How can they move from aspiration to reality in the application of national and trans-national law?’, Venezuelan human rights activist and university professor, Tamara Adrian, together with Sibongile Ndashe, South African human rights lawyer, and Li Yinhe, sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and moderated by Dutch former politician Lousewies van der Laan, drew on their experiences in disparate countries in tackling the issue of legislating for LGBT human rights at a national and global level. It was apparent from even just these three countries represented that different countries and regions of the world have different attitudes towards and thus different approaches needed to achieve LGBT human rights. Four key questions emerged:
  1. Does what is happening in the UN help or hinder LGBT human rights processes at a national and social level?
  2. What happens when “the same side” wants or needs a different approach?
  3. What language or terms can be used to be most beneficial to all?
  4. On national level should a radical or conservative approach to legislation be taken?
In the group exercise that followed, many of the problems raised by the Fellows were the same from country to country—but different, and appropriate solutions will needed in each situation; one solution does not suit all.
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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