SALZBURG GLOBAL LGBT FORUM

Fellows' Testimonies

A participant from Bangladesh

I am very grateful to all seminar participants who created a lovely global Salzburg family to survive worldwide.The beauty of the seminar was that all participants came from diverse cultural, intellectual groups, gender, age level, context, geographical location and multi talented.
For me, it was a great opportunity to share how queer Bangladeshi are struggling and surviving with their desire and how we learn from each other. Through the Forum I have found a fantastic mentor who is interested to support my development. After sharing my project on “Artivism and Sexuality” there are a few activist interested to support especially my intersex photo project.The safety and security was a big concern in the session and I am glad that everyone respected my concerns about safety and security.

A participant from Bangladesh

The program was very thought-provoking and the discussions were truly inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion on LGBT migration and immigration and the writer’s discussion. The content was extremely informative and incredibly useful specially when the LGBT movement is shattered after the murder in 2016 in Bangladesh and the whole community is scattered all over the world. I have attended several trainings before but I can't recall any of them having such a strong impact. It was very informative, very well presented, plus enjoyable. I have learned so much from Salzburg Global LGBT Forum session 578 that will assist me in my work in Bangladesh. The LGBT Film festival on day three has inspired me and given me the tools to look at a new path. The screening of the film ‘Visibility’ and the interest of the audience about the film afterwords has inspired me to work on digital story telling format.

A participant from the Russian LGBT Network

Accounting that the seminar is a professional platform for communication between LGBT activists and associated leaders all over the world, it brings together people of various backgrounds. The foremost benefit, which I gained from my participation, is tightly connected to the bounds expansion when raising awareness of the LGBT issues, because of the concept of the seminar, that ensures cultural, ethnic, generational and SOGI diversity. Dialogs with people of distant places of origin, senior age, radically different working experience have significantly influenced my opinion about the community needs and actions to be taken to encourage LGBT movement advance.
 
Apart from the high-estimated opportunity to spend time away from the daily work and routine, which actually works as a burn-out preventive mechanism, this Seminar brought practical assistance to the activities that I implement within Russian LGBT Network. Several sections of the Seminar 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 labour 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.

Tamara Adrian, Chair, World Committee for IDAHOT, Venezuela

This seminar is unlike any other seminar 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 events, in order to promote a better world for us all.

Iryna Fedorovych, Projects Coordinator, Social Action Center/No Borders Project, Ukraine

I was amazed at the diverse and respectful atmosphere organizers managed to create.For me particularly valuable was the diversity of participants not only in terms of their countries of origins, but also age and professional experience. This makes learning and inspiration work so much richer. For me personally this was the most valuable moment and a chance to learn about many dimensions of human right work and get new ideas for my own.I also like to mention program design as very favoring sharing and learning from peers and the atmosphere of support and understanding it creates (something that you usually completely miss at conferences).
That is important for those who do human rights work and spend much time under stress. The atmosphere and conditions are perfectly safe and participants friendly. Thank you for that as well.

Eliane Fersan, LGBTQ Activist, Middle East & North Africa, Lebanon

Dear Dr. Mueller, Capturing the transformational experience I had here at Salzburg in a few words is not an easy task; but if there is one thing I believe I added to this gathering is helping activists at home understand the importance of engaging with those activists who have sought refuge or founded their lives elsewhere for a host of reasons. In fact, I was approached by many of the audience thanking me for shedding the light on the importance of “utilizing” the diaspora and reinvesting in a relationship with those LGBTI migrants who have access to connections, resources, skills and of course money. They said: “you opened up our eyes, we did not know”. Through conversations I had with the Syrian participants, I was able to convince them of the importance of starting an NGO in their current country of residence to continue supporting incoming refugees and building capacity of those who wish to stay. We in Lebanon are starting this initiative to build Syrian leadership among the LGBT refugees in Lebanon so that they can take their skills and knowledge back home once the war ends. Indeed, Everyone realizes that we as human rights defenders; cannot continue to rely on international aid to push our agendas forward. Reversing the brain drain into a brain capital is thus essential, and we as activists in the diaspora can only do that when we are accepted and embraced in our homes of origin. Thank you for being that connecting bridge and for offering the avenue of dialogue and redemption. It is undeniable that the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum fosters a “South-to-South” dialogue that is otherwise impossible given the security constrains and the difficulty in calling for such forum in our parts of the world. Your leadership in convening this meeting and preparing this rich agenda attests to your vision and commitment to human rights: Thank you.

Nana King, Project Manager, Deutsche Welle Akademie, Ghana

The question on "what is home" was one which we had discussed here in Ghana before my departure and it revealed how crucial its understanding and provision is for the LGBT community here. Therefore, all the sessions inwhich this was discussed, including, in particular, those that dealt with the question as to why and when to leave home, were very interesting for me and confirmed my impression that this is one of the cornerstones for the lives of LGBT people here in Ghana. I have therefore decided to discuss the establishment of a support network to help people here to feel at home.In fact, I have already raised this idea the day after my return with the Austrian Trade Representative here, who supported this thought and encouraged me to consider setting up a helpline. I will definitely discuss this with my friends and colleagues to ensure that this would be the right and needed step. 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, from Nigeria, and I have discussed the possibility of establishing a West African support network. Obviously, this is not something that can be done over night, 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...

Counsellor Maria Luz Melon, Embassy of Argentina, Austria

I participated as a panelist on Thursday at the Ambassador’s panel. The opportunities offered earlier with the coordination meeting with the moderator, the informal dinner with participants and the reception after the panel, together with the very interactive nature of the panel, allowed me to network and be in touch not only with diplomatic colleagues with a shared interest in human rights for LGBT persons and the Yogyakarta Principles but with activists from both Latin America and other regions that can result in future opportunities of collaboration. So, in a nutshell, a better understanding of the approaches to the issues coupled with the chance to network with people who are at the core of the issues in diverse fields.

Kasha Nabagesera, Executive Director of Kuchu Times Media Group, Uganda

I feel so good and alive, very fresh, and more motivated.Every year I get more amazed at how the Forum has grown and getting more informative, interesting, but also more focused on the issues that many of us neglect or forget about during our everyday work. The issue of wellbeing and safety plus family is the core of our existence - and the petro that fuels us to continue to do what we do. I wonder why for so many years the movements around the world have neglected these topics. We work under very dire circumstances and if we don’t look after ourselves it will be difficult for us to sustain the global movements and struggle. So for me to have this opportunity every year to come and reenergize, learn from so many diverse people, share experiences with different kinds of cultures is something that I truly need.

I really wish many donors, corporations and organizations would really understand the importance of this Forum. We cannot always just fight fight fight … without loved ones at our sides, without family. If we are not healthy there is no way we can have healthy movements. You have given us a platform to learn and also take back home and share with our communities, I will forever be grateful. And I will always be a bit selfish and say for as long as I am invited to the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum I will attend. This forum brings out a lot of me that sometimes I didn’t know I had, some kind of burden gets off, being in a place where for us the focus is directly about us and not just our work and politics. It’s a place where I get to interact one on one with government officials, diplomats, UN experts and where I don’t have to fight for space to get their attention like in the so many forums I attend where we are over 1000 people, talking about the same thing for decades.

I can now continue with my other trips and travels well reenergized, ready to pull down mountains…  Thank you so much and I hope our FAMILY IS…? video can really show people that this is serious business and hopeful many movements around the world can learn from us.

Bao Chau Nguyen, Member and Media Manager, Next Generation (NextGEN) Hanoi, Vietnam

Last year, during the 2016 session in Chiang Rai, Thailand I had a conversation with Philippine Filmmaker Cha Roque about Queer Film Festivals. That was the first time I just suddenly said: "I have to do something like that for Vietnam!" Seeing that Vietnam has already had 2 Queer film festivals, I asked myself what could I do to be different? Then I realized that both of those film festivals were underground. So I decided to organize a legal one – in a very short period of time, just a couple of months. Cha Roque and film maker Popo Fan from China, both Salzburg Global LGBT Forum members, supported me a lot by allowing me to screen their films for free. They also came to Vietnam to join with the audiences. We showed 23 films! During the 2017 session in Salzburg, I have not only learned a lot of experiences from people in other countries but was also encouraged by them in many conversations. Last year, this forum had given me the idea to organize the first legal Queer Film Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam. I think that this year, again, it has given me the energy and also resources for the second one. That was pretty much a nice start for a film festival in my opinion.

Juan Pigot, Chairman, PAREA, Suriname

From May 14th -19th 2017, I had the opportunity to be part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Seminar Session 578 “Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging”. This enriching event did not only give me new insights because of the excellent mix of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and geographical location of my fellows. It also gave me renewed energy to continue with the work we do back home. The personal touch in the set up of the event made it into an emotional roller-coaster where tears, laughter, smiles, hugs and disbelieve easily followed each other in the course of 1 day. The program was well balanced around different topics and themes while the entire team made sure that the event ran smooth using their professionalism and personalities. It was obvious that everybody felt home and safe. The 5 days went by in a blink of an eye. I’m now back home with good memories I will have for the rest of my life, new friendships but above all positive energy.
Yes, we can learn from one another
Yes, we can inspire one another
And Yes, we can change the world if we want to.
That’s what I brought back from Salzburg. I hope that the successful Salzburg Global LGBT Seminar will live on and will keep inspiring more people from around the world.

Danny Ramadan, Author, Storyteller and LGBTQ-Refugees Activist, Syria/Canada

I see myself as part of this global family.
The gathering of global activists, storytellers and change-makers in one scenic and beautiful space allowed all of us to connect, build networks, co-learn, share and retreat.
Such spaces fulfill our need of cultivating knowledge and self-care, which then inform our future work.

Cha Roque, Communications Director, Dakila Collective for Modern Heroism, Philippines

"I was invited to the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Chiang Rai in 2016. Aside from connecting with a lot of great people and hearing about their stories, there was a particular session in the forum that rocked my foundation and gave a big impact to my life. I was a panelist in a forum about raising an LGBT family when I was asked about my most precious memory with my daughter. This question made me realize I should keep making films that tell the stories of LGBTs - not only their struggles but also their triumphs. When I came back to Manila, I continued working on my film called What I Would've Told My Daughter if I Knew What to Say Back Then. It has now been screened at a couple of international film festivals. If not for the Salzburg Global LGBt Forum, I might not have that motivation and push to make another film, and now that I just came from another of their session, I am once again inspired to make new films that will give a voice to LGBTs around the world. Thank you Salzburg Global LGBT Forum!"

Sudeshan Reddy, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, South Africa

The Forum is truly a special gathering of some of the bravest and most committed people one can encounter anywhere.

Ieva Ruzgyte, Association LGL Member Association LGL, Lithuania

It feels like we became one big family.Knowledge and education is the key for democracy and succeeding as a great society. Salzburg Global LGBT Forum provided all mentioned above. We were given examples of where ignorance might lead, what happens when people take things for granted or that in spots of the world it takes bit more to achieve something. Only together, as a team of human rights defenders, we can achieve a greater future! However, as they say: "if you want to change the world - start with yourself!".

And I did...And as we say, “Actions speak louder than words”!

• After coming back from Salzburg I became a part of Oslo PrideInternational, International communication coordinator, and a member  of FRI, an Oslo Pride volunteer organization. 

• I created and attended an event and hashtag "World for Chechnya"to get a government attention on the LGBTIQA people situation in Chechnya. 

• I applied for the internship position at ILGA Europe.

I am sure that inspiration, knowledge and tools gained during Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is and will be doing a great impact on my activities towards Human Rights defense.Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is the place to send people to give them hope, knowledge and tools to build greater tomorrow!

Sukhdeep Singh, Founder & Editor in Chief- Gaylaxy Magazine, India

The last one week has been the most amazing and inspiring week of my life! I have spent the whole week with the president of IDAHOT, gay Syrian Refugees, the first married lesbian couple of Japan, Russian activists helping the Chechen Gay men flee to other countries, activists from Uganda, China, Vietnam, Lebanon, South Africa, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, and many more such countries doing so many amazing, powerful and courageous things to make this world a better place! This is going to take some time to sink in.. Phew.. Thank you Klaus Mueller from the bottom of my heart.

Palitha Vijaya Bandara, Coordinator,
Positive Hopes Alliance, Sri Lanka

I have seen, conducted and experienced many workshops at country level, but I can whole-heartedly say this was one of the most unique and fulfilling experiences in my life. I was enamored by the event from the point of conception itself, however, the use of distinctive methodologies and techniques created a platform where I felt comfortable enough to freely express my opinion and grow in a progressive manner. We are now connected through Salzburg Global LGBT Forum face book group. It is very good opportunity everyone sharing their own country situation through social media, continue to exchange ideas and learn about progress and difficulties in other countries. I look forward to translate this knowledge and implement our future work to ground level initiatives in Sri Lanka.

Fadi K. Zaghmout, Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist, Wasl Asset Management Group, Jordan

It has been a wonderful experience for me to be here, in 2017, at Salzburg Global LGBT Forum for the 2nd time. In 2013, when I joined for the first time, I had just published my book in Jordan and was encouraged by the Forum to do a reading of one chapter in English that a friend helped to translate. It was great then to get so many responses and I felt encouraged. Now I returned as a writer, with my book ‘The Bride in Amman’ being translated in English, having published two more books and working on the forth. I had the chance to meet activists, writers, journalists, artists, politicians and film makers from all over the world and listening to their stories and how each one of them is making change. I was able to share my story as a writer and present my book "The Bride of Amman" to this big audience. The connections I have made in this week are priceless, not just in terms of strengthening my knowledge and empowering me as an activist, but also as human connections and life-long friendships.

Kaoru Aoyama, Professor, Contemporary Culture and Society, Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, University of Kobe, Japan

"The week of Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was a week of effective retreat. Away from our "real lives" [we had] an opportunity to immerse ourselves in indeed 'real' ideals based on solidarity. It was also an opportunity of re-creating my sense of belonging to a community for me. To know the different meanings of being sexual or gender minorities in various cultural and political situations opened a new door. It was a real education to me to have a chance to listen to and talk directly to friends from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bhutan, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Lebanon and Syria. I felt reassured that my belief as an empirical sociologist was proven: it is always better to meet actual persons who go through that experience to get a sense of what's on in a society, however this is a small initial step to know more. This was also seriously the first time for me not to see any antagonisms between gays and lesbians, between trans- and sis-genders or between men and women in an 'LGBT' gathering!
I will always remember one of the seminar's concluding remarks: 'if you want to make allies, you should be an ally to others', with the understanding, the trust and the care the friends in the seminar granted me."

Human Rights Defender; Founder, Kuchu Times; Founder & former Executive Director, Farug, Uganda

"It was a great opportunity for me to meet again after the first two meetings in 2013 and 2014; to catch up with other colleagues and to also meet new people. I have been to many international lgbt meetings but somehow the Global LGBT Forum stands out as it provides a space of more engagement with especially people from different walks of life. In this session we get to engage with scholars, UN special rapporteurs, artists, activists, government officials and diplomats from different countries.
I always leave the gatherings of the Forum more energized, and equally important, more relaxed as the environment is very relaxing.
The Forum also gives participants to suggest topics of engagement which are closer to their communities, and that's very important not to have dictatorial topics in such spaces.
I am still in contact with all participants and still getting more best practices from them.
I see a very bright future for our Global LGBT Forum and I hope more participants can be given an opportunity that some of us have been given."

Ying Xin, Executive Director, Beijing LGBT Center, China

"This is my first time to attended a LGBT forum including activists, artists, scholars from all over the world. It really helped me to know the whole picture of the LGBT movement around world, which is really inspired me to make more connections with other countries.
I learned from one of the participants from Africa that it was very hard and dangerous to do LGBT work in some African countries. I felt that it was not so bad in China, and if even this African Fellow can insist in their struggle in such a bad situation, how could we give up in China?
During this forum, I also learnt different perspectives and strategies from other people.
After the Forum meeting, I talked a lot with a participant from Argentina who works with IDAHOT and another one from the Asia Pacific Transgender Network: We already planned to collaborate more on trans issues in Asia. I really like the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and will recommend it to more Chinese activists and scholars to attend. By the way, the team of this forum is also lovely and awesome!"

Martin Vidaurre Vaca, National Chief, Iguales ante la Ley (Equal before the Law), Casilla, Bolivia

"This experience has greatly supported me in the work I do in Bolivia in favor of the human rights of the LGBT population. The acquired knowledge and the best practices shared among the seminar participants helped me to have a new vision to work and tackle this issue in Bolivia. The exchange with the seminar participants has allowed me to have strategic alliance with them, and actions planned to work on this subject in the future.
Knowing different realities of other countries like Uganda, Russia and others, it has sensitized me much more on this reality and I admired the courage of the activists and leaders who participated in the seminar, making me promise much more in our work in Bolivia. All this experience has been shared with leaders of LGBTI people in Bolivia, allowing us to plan new strategies for political and social impact. As one consequence of the meeting in Salzburg, I inform you that we have applied in Bolivia a meeting with diplomats from embassies of countries that have made progress on human rights of LGBTI people, such as the European Union, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, among others."

Ivan Capriles, Rapporteur, Session 551, Berlin, Germany & Venezuela

"The experience I lived in Session 551 was a positive and constant challenge to my emotional and intellectual journey. The personal stories of every single one of the fellows I had the honour to meet have impacted me profoundly, not only to have a greater and deeper understanding of the fact that often the places of loneliness in growing up as an LGBT person in a homophobic world, are only part of a greater sense of struggle shared in one way or another by every single one of those, be them from the LGBT community or supporters of it.
I´ve been humbled, inspired, to see how every single story, regardless of point of origin, family context, socio economic status and so forth has turned adversity into human resilience. I felt I was truly surrounded by heroes all the way through the seminar, and that just made me be more conscious not only of the challenge at hand to make our ability to live in this planet a fundamental rights. But also that the pool of knowledge, the power of the ideas, and the level of empathy of this group of people, this small test group of the wider community, tells me that although the struggle is difficult, it relies on quite a truly unique diversity of personalities that I really think have the power of changing the history and path of humanity beyond the question of gender identity and sexual orientation.
As for my work, I have been engaged and will continue for the months and years to come with issues of rule of law, conflict resolution and prevention and transitional justice. After this event, it is much more clear to me the importance of law, legal questions and international treaties to further the battle of inclusion. The fields of conflict are many, health, policy, and so forth, but international law is paramount field through which the LGBT community must wage an important battle of recognition, of real and proper humanization above national laws and via universal acceptance. I have not only a greater confirmation of this but I also have contacts, ideas and concrete ways through which to agitate, activate and continue the process through many channels to ensure this."

Angeline Jackson, Founder & Executive Director, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, Jaimaca

"The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from persons within LGBT advocacy whom I consider to be the best within our movement. I appreciated being able to share ideas and advocacy strategies with activists from various parts of the world. Sometimes hearing directly what one person is doing in another part of the world can help to give ideas about what one can do in their own country.
From this forum, I walked away not just with valuable connections but also ideas for new ways to possibly challenge Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, the use of videos to engage people and change hearts and minds, and possible country exchanges with activists from Latin America and Jamaica.
The conversation on losing activists, whether through asylum, death, or those who moved for better opportunities oftentimes due to financial lack, was a deep conversation that requires more thought into how we can really support those doing the work, especially those who don’t want to leave their countries.  The best part for me was hearing women and lesbian and bisexual women clearing stating the challenges within the movement without being told to be quite or being pushed to the sidelines.
I’ve very honored to have been invited to this forum and plan to package this knowledge along with others I have learned and begin training small groups of activists in Jamaica."

Danilo Da Silva, Executive Director, Lambda, Mozambique

"There are very few spaces were queers activists, scholars, artists and politicians meet and discuss current and pressing issues with a global perspective, come out with common goals and an invigorating feeling that WE are indeed a global community that need to learn from and share with each other.
My experience in the Salzburg Global Seminar had a profound impact not only in the way I perceive the global struggle for equality but also in the work I do here in Mozambique. After the meeting I have established relationships with other activists across the globe. We stay connected and have been able to come up with some concrete actions to promote the health and rights of LGBT, and also document and share our advocacy experiences. I am very grateful for this opportunity."

Rooi Teve, Human Rights Activist & Writer, Russia

"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 form 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."

Mariano Ruiz, IDAHO Committee, Latin America & Caribbean Outreach Communications Officer, Argentina

"I truly had no idea of the energy and ideas such gatherings generate. 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. Salzburg Global Seminar has given more definition to my life course; having not had the opportunity to travel so much before it truly was an eye opening experience to know what a great big and wonderful world we live in, and what amazing people are in it. It helped me to broaden my knowledge skills of fields I was hitherto unaware of. For example, the impact of discrimination to LGBTs on a country's economy or strategies on how to tell personal stories to effectively reach a broader audience and generate positive impact on media. I am looking forward to implementing these, and other new strategies, using greater expertise, as we continue our struggle for LGBT rights in my country under our regime."

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

"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 connection alive and use it, so that Korean LGBT rights organizations can keep 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."

Danish Sheikh, Advocate & Researcher, Alternative Law Forum, India

"When you bring so many diverse individuals together for a 5 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 realise how strongly I need to focus on evidence building vis a vis discrimination particularly when it comes to making an economic argument for 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 reframe 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.
I return from the Forum deeply grateful about the opportunity I've been given to be a part of this transformative experience."

Monica Pisankaneva, Chairperson, Bilitis Resource Center Foundation, Bulgaria

"The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum 2015 enriched my understanding of global issues affecting the LGBT human rights movement and how they are translated into various local contexts. I found out many commonalities in LGBT activism across the globe, and at the same time some differences, which are the result of the intersection with the local cultures.[...]
A great example of the impact of the forum on my current work is my changed understanding of the necessity to enter into public debates with opponents, even if there is a risk of losing the debate. Immediately after coming back to Bulgaria, I took advantage of my increased motivation to speak up for LGBTI equality. I took part in 5 media debates during Sofia Pride Week and encouraged other activists to do the same. This year, Sofia Pride received unprecedented opposition from intellectuals, who signed a Declaration addressed to the Mayor of Sofia to ban the Pride. I met with 2 from the strongest opponents in direct media debates, and in 3 other occasions  - with more moderate opponents. The results were terrific, because I was able to use some of the new knowledge gained during the Salzburg Forum to strengthen my view point and argumentation."

Benjamin Cantu, Film Director/ Writer, Hungary & Germany

"My participation in the Global LGBT Forum has been highly inspirational as a filmmaker and empowering from a human experience, both in the long-run.
Within the few days I learned a lot about the current situation of LGBT individuals and groups from all corners of the world. Especially important to me was the intense dialogue with people from a trans background. I extended my network of friends and partners, whom I want to collaborate with in the future.
The film „Weil ich bin wer ich bin“ / "Je suis qui je suis“ (52 min, Germany 2015, directed by Benjamin Cantu & Nils Bökamp), that I presented during the seminar in an exclusive preview, already gained much from the Forum's network during our production as Chair & Founder Klaus Mueller connected us with artists and writers in Cambodia, Namibia and Morocco who are part of the Global LGBT Forum. He also shared the global perspectives the Forum had worked on for the last years.
After the film's screening, I was instantly invited by many members of the community to future screenings in Uganda, Argentina, Japan, and China.
The seminar also empowered me as an individual to participate more in human rights causes, beyond filmmaking."
(Link to the trailer can be found here: https://vimeo.com/127810284)

Amy Lamé, Performer/Writer/Broadcaster, United Kingdom

“I was invited to take part in the first ever SGS Seminar on an LGBT theme. Meeting people from all over the globe fighting for LGBT human rights was hugely inspirational.  While in Salzburg I realized I needed to do more, and I returned to the UK invigorated and determined. Realizing a long - and quietly- held ambition, I stood for Parliamentary selection for the Labour Party. Unfortunately I was not successful, but I am continuing my journey in politics and I intend to stand again. and win. Salzburg Global spurred me on to think bigger, do better, make a real difference. I will always be thankful for the invitation to take part in the session - it changed my life.”

Tamara Adrian, Human Rights Activist; Chair, World Committee for IDAHOT; Professor, Central University of Venezuela

“The 2014 Berlin meeting was very useful in a practical way in order to put under international supervision the case of a gay activist belonging to our group, Proinclusion, who is a political prisoner since late May 2014 without trial. He was detained because of an anonymous accusation of a patriot-collaborator, and the police planted some minor amounts of money (about 200$ by the time of the detention), arguing that such money was used to promote the protests against the government and to promote destabilization. Our contacts with the Embassy of Germany and other EU Embassies and the references of the persons we were in touch with in Berlin, allowed us to file the case. Our friend is still in jail with no trial for over a year now, and with no official charges against him, but he is in a detention facility where he is not detained with common criminals, and we are able to see him once a month. This is also the case for more than 80 political prisoners in Venezuela in this very moment.
The possibility to act at the highest level with an outstanding group of activists, was a very important experience, to realize how important it is to coordinate actions, and how can we get much more support from allies when we act jointly, and promote new ideas and put the focus on new issues.”

Hui Zhang, Assistant Professor, Institute of Anthropology, School of Social Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China

"Before I came to Salzburg Global Seminar, I had the expectation of what I would expect of an ordinary conference – formal, reserved, very scholarly exchanges in conventional format – keynotes, presentations, and Q&A. The Seminar has all these, but a lot more than that too. May I say, it is a very “trans-” conference? - not just because the transgender issue is central to the discussions, but that the format of it combine professional academic presentations, with emotionally impacting life story sharing, as well as the highly dynamic knowledge café. Through these activities, the Seminar transgressed the boundaries among scholarly research, activism projects and artists’ works. It also enables transnational communication of the LGBTI communities. The “globalness” of the Seminar experience, is fleshed out through numerous casual chatting with new friends from different parts of the world, through which I heard stories of poignancy, struggle, but also full of humor, and hope; I got to understand more of the history and political context of different countries, learnt about in-depth knowledge of a society that you can’t possibly acquire through mass media, and also got inspired by the experience of making innovative social organizations and creative use of social media. All these have greatly expanded my horizon of the vision of the LGBTI movement and made the Seminar a very transformative experience. The materials, resources and personal connections I’ve acquired through it will tremendously expand the scope of the two undergraduate courses on gender/sexuality studies and queer culture that I’m teaching right now. Thanks to the Seminar, there will be more up-to-date information and an enhanced global perspective that I can provide to my students. They will also, benefit my own research on this topic in the future."

Serhiy Ponomaryov, Deputy Head of the Department for Observance of the Rights of the Child, Head of the Non-Discrimination Division Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Kiev, Ukraine

“The Salzburg Global Seminar was a unique opportunity to be part of a global team, participate in and contribute to the discussions on human rights in general and LGBT rights in particular, and their intersections. A carefully though-out agenda, which allowed not only to ponder on a broad range of issues but also to have plenty of time to thoroughly investigate into each of them, a great selection of keynote speakers, an excellent organization and even the vibrant ambience of the Schloss - all of that contributed significantly to fruitfulness of debates and facilitated exchange of ideas and, ultimately, learning. I can testify that I have indeed brought back a lot from the Seminar. The knowledge that I sought when applying for the Salzburg Global Seminar was that of practicable strategies, tactics, and techniques in respect of protection and promotion of LGBT rights. Empowered by the Seminar organizers to communicate with many people coming from different professional and cultural backgrounds during the Seminar’s study sessions and workshops, I managed to get exactly what was looking for. Now, being back in Ukraine and engaged in development of the Ombudsman Office’s Equality and Non-discrimination Strategic Action Plan, the knowledge and insights that I have gained through the Seminar are helping me to see the Plan in a different light and enrich it with new strategies directed at promotion and protection of sexual rights in general and LGBT rights in particular.”

Marko Karadzic, Former Serbian State Secretary for Human and Minority Rights, Belgrade, Serbia

“Having a chance to participate and present at Salzburg seminar was one of the best experiences for me. Even though I had a chance to participate at many different international forums and conferences this one was exceptional. For the first time I had a chance to exchange experience, learn, teach, and network with people dealing with LGBT human rights but in different fields. 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. It was a forum for education, healing, and networking. The environment in which the conference took place, safety, and honest interactions gave us a chance to openly challenge even the most difficult issues. Express our views and agree on the most important steps in the future.”