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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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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LGBT & Human Rights - Day 1: From the Floor
LGBT & Human Rights - Day 1: From the Floor
Louise Hallman 
Fellows of the seminar ‘LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps’ tackle the issues surrounding the challenges of legislation for LGBT human rights at a global, regional and national level and how that impacts on a societal and community level. “Colleagues from global North feel they should have special rapporteur, but the global South feel this isn’t the time and could backfire. "Some special rapporteurs are already not invited to our countries; this rapporteur would not be invited to Zimbabwe, for example. "But people from North feel the South are delaying things by not agreeing to an office or rapporteur. ” “In India the sodomy law took three years of inter-movement talking to draft a law without using sexual orientation in. "Instead the law states ‘Any consenting adult acting in private should not be criminalized,’ thus offering protection against marital rape, incest and sex with minors [as well as consenting adults in same-sex relationships].” “Law is imagined as single barrier to progress. This narrow focus on the law has stopped people from thinking of other ways of engaging. "Sometimes there will be opportunities where government passes something that sounds good but the lived realities of the intended beneficiaries mean that they aren’t able to benefit because the change has not happened [in society]. "South Africa [which has some of the most progressive laws in Africa] has one of highest murder rates for LGBT people in the continent as opposed to other countries where illegality continues. "South Africa still has to do work that enables change to be stable once it takes place in law.” “Any strategy is time specific; had South Africa gone through its struggle [against Apartheid] today, the outcome [including its progressive constitution] might have been different. "The framing needs to be context specific. We know it is time-bound because it capitalizes on the conversation that happens then. "Multiple discourses are happening concurrently; you need to tap into discourses and make them work for you.” “Many argue that the [LGBT] community isn’t unanimous; but why should there be only one voice? "These issues should not look as though they are imposed on us by the West. I haven’t met people or organizations that really have a strategy; their actions are mostly led by instinct and ad hoc actions. "We need to take time to decide on short, long, medium term goals. Instead we are just responding to the actions from our opponents.” “One of best ways to resolve this issue – is UN imposing things on us? – is to give more power to local activists and people who can find a balance between human rights and local discourses. "Activists in particular culture know that culture, its traditions, the legal language of that place more than outsiders. "They would be best placed to take UN resolutions, appropriate, adopt and turn them into something relevant for that culture and context - bringing global and local together.”
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Ground-breaking session on LGBT and Human Rights opens
Ground-breaking session on LGBT and Human Rights opens
Louise Hallman 
A new international forum for LGBT rights was launched on Sunday, June 2, 2013, with the opening of the Salzburg Global Seminar program ‘LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps’ at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. Speaking at the opening session, seminar Chair Klaus Mueller said: “I strongly believe now is the time to create a Global LGBT Forum. A space to come together and reflect on the new challenges we are facing and consider the next steps needed to secure the safety, free expression and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and communities. “Human kind is defined by its diversity: the free expression of sexuality and gender is increasingly defining the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century. But progress is by no means certain. In 2011, South Africa spearheaded the first UN Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, supported by 40 other countries—yet in 78 states, governments continue to legitimize and sponsor violence again their LGBT citizens.” Mueller, who is a museums consultant, film-maker and historian, and whose academic work includes in-depth study of the persecution of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, hopes this seminar will serve as the inaugural session of this new Global LGBT Forum. The seminar, supported by funds from HIVOS, Stiftung EVZ, the German Federal Foreign Office and Michael Huffington, is bringing together over 60 participants from 35 countries to discuss wide-ranging topics, from the rule of law and international institutions, data gathering on LGBT issues, and the potential role of philanthropy, to queer film-making and the use of social media. A cultural showcase evening is also scheduled. Welcoming the newly inducted Salzburg Global Fellows to the historic Schloss, Clare Shine, Vice President and Chief Program Officer of Salzburg Global called the program “ground-breaking” for its multidisciplinary and global approach.
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LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps
LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps
Louise Hallman 
The US Supreme Court is hearing cases for and against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8; the UK’s lower chamber of Parliament, the House of Commons, has overwhelmingly passed the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill; in Hong Kong, the Court of Final Appeal has ruled in favor of a trans-woman seeking the right to marry her boyfriend, ending her three-year-long legal battle; and French President Francois Hollande has just signed both gay adoption and gay marriage into French law, joining 14 other countries across the world that have or are about to enact legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. 2013 is shaping up to be a year of many advances in LGBT rights, but despite these advances, a European Union agency report published on May 17 – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – found that nearly half of the 93,000+ respondents in the 27 EU member states and Croatia had “felt personally discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation.” Homophobia, it would seem, is still rife in Europe – but at least homosexuality is no longer illegal. On the same day as the EU Agency for Fundamental Right’s report, the UN human rights office posed its own ‘riddle’: “What exists in every corner of the world, is embraced and celebrated in some countries, but is illegal in 76, and is punishable in seven countries by the death penalty?” Answer: being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. With statistics such as that, along with 26 percent of respondents (and 35 percent of transgendered respondents) to the EU’s poll saying they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years, it is clear there is still much work to be done to counter the prejudice and persecution many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered people face every day. As the EU poll and the ruling last week of a British coroner, placing blame on the Daily Mail’s coverage of Lucy Meadow’s gender reassignment for the primary school teacher’s suicide, show this prejudice and persecution is not confined solely to countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and communities are criminalized. Timely seminar It is against this backdrop of growing rights, yet persistent persecution that the Salzburg Global session on LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps takes place, June 2 to 7, 2013. Speaking ahead of the opening session, seminar Chair Klaus Mueller said: “Human kind is defined by its diversity: the free expression of sexuality and gender is increasingly defining the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century. But progress is by no means certain. In 2011, South Africa spearheaded the first UN Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, supported by 40 other countries—yet in 78 states, governments continue to legitimize and sponsor violence again their LGBT citizens.” Mueller, who is a museums consultant, film-maker and historian, and whose academic work includes in-depth study of the persecution of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, hopes that his initiative and this week's seminar will go on to launch a new Global LGBT Forum. “I strongly believe now is the time to create a Global LGBT Forum. A space to come together and reflect on the new challenges we are facing and consider the next steps needed to secure the safety, free expression and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and communities,” said Mueller. “In the future, the laws that criminalize so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way apartheid laws do to us now – so obviously wrong,” said human rights campaigner and Salzburg Global Seminar supporter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “We know that LGBT people are a part of every human community. We therefore need a forum for a truly global conversation about how they contribute to, and are affected by, the law, culture and creativity - and how we can ensure that their voices are heard and understood. “I applaud Salzburg Global Seminar for deciding to hold a session on ‘LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps’, at which all regions of the world will be represented, and I hope that it will mark the beginning of that global conversation.” A truly global conversation will take place over the five days of the Salzburg Global session, bringing together 64 people from over 30 countries on five continents, including many countries where LGBT issues are still highly taboo and often illegal, such as Uganda. The central African country garnered worldwide headlines thanks to proposed legislation that would see those who are found to have repeatedly engaged in sexual activity with a partner of the same sex receive the death penalty. A Kampala-based tabloid newspaper’s decision to publish names of alleged homosexuals was widely condemned, not only by foreign governments and activists, but also by international press freedom advocates. Growing global prominence The international condemnation of both the legislation and the Rolling Stone’s publication reflects the rising prominence of LGBT issues and human rights on the international agenda. South Africa spearheaded the first UN Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (supported by Brazil and 39 other countries), Argentina adopted landmark legislation in recognition of gender identity, and the US, the European Union and UK have identified LGBT rights as a cross-cutting priority in foreign and international development policy. The groundbreaking 2006 Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity have become an important resource, inspiring National Human Rights Commissions in Australia, Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines and New Zealand to review their legislation. New Zealand will now see its first same-sex weddings take place in August after its House of Representatives voted in favor of marriage equality in April. While the sphere of the law in an increasingly interconnected world provides an essential frame of reference, underlying cultural value systems need to be taken into consideration. No longer defined by conventional Western/non-Western divides, the meanings given to LGBT equality – in such diverse debates as those of a society's moral fiber, political belief system, specific history or social health – fluctuate greatly. Accounting for these diverse cultural values and the many facets of LGBT human rights, the seminar will cover many topics including the rule of law, international institutions and LGBT human rights; culture and resilience; the globalization of LBGT human rights in the face of growing homo- and transphobia; violence and trauma; the impact of the corporate and philanthropic sectors on LGBT issues; queer film-making; global transgender issues; and the relationship between religion and LGBT communities. Diverse voices The participants of the seminar come from diverse backgrounds, including Dennis van der Veur, Head of the sector "Equality" at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, publisher of the EU report, who will join discussants on the panel ‘Multiple Discrimination against and with LGBT Communities: What data do we have or lack?’; broadcaster and comedienne Amy Lamé, who will chair a showcase of performances inspired by LGBT issues; and Fadi Saleh, a literary researcher from Syria, who will lead a workshop on how LGBT people can engage online safely and securely. Representatives of LGBT activist and human rights organizations in China, Indonesia, Burma, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Russia, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Bahrain and Lebanon, amongst others, will also attend. Reflecting Salzburg Global’s increasingly inter-disciplinary approach, Fellows from the arts, media, academia, business and commerce will also join the session at Schloss Leopoldskron. Efforts have been made to ensure all sectors of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community will be represented at the five-day seminar. A list of session speakers and workshop leaders is available on the session page. “By bringing together leading voices from around the world and the diverse spheres of law, politics and culture, we hope to start a truly global, multidisciplinary conversation. Our goal is to build new alliances, learn from each other and strengthen fundamental human rights for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Mueller added. In addition to the wide-ranging discussions and international networking opportunities, Mueller also intends for the session to produce a Salzburg Statement on the next steps to be taken in realizing LGBT human rights, which will then be presented to the United Nations and the Council of Europe, as well as other relevant bodies. The Salzburg Global session on LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps will take place June 2 to 7, 2013. The proceedings will be covered on the Salzburg Global Twitter feed (#SGSlgbt), Salzburg Global Facebook page, Salzburg Global YouTube channel page and Salzburg Global website.
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The First Five Years

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