Past Program


Being part of family is a fundamental human condition as well as a human right. All of us long to feel at home with the families of our birth, in the families of our choosing, and in the families we raise. Equally, we all have the right to live safely within the cultures and countries in which we are raised. This sense of belonging, connection, and wellbeing is what we call feeling "at home."

Much progress has been made in recent years to embed LGBT* rights as an integral part of the global human rights agenda. Despite this, being truly "at home" remains out of reach for many LGBT individuals who are subjected to exclusion from their families, cultures or home countries. Legislative discrimination, social alienation or hate speech can all affect the safety of LGBT people, their wellbeing and sense of belonging. At the global scale, migration and exile shape the lives of many LGBT individuals as well as the communities and families they are forced to leave behind. Exploring the theme of "Home" therefore raises the growing question of LGBT refugees and specific challenges for their support services.

Basic rights related to family, housing, health, and safety are threatened or non-existent for LGBT people and communities in many countries, independent of their geographic, cultural, development, and religious contexts. Human rights defenders, working at the front lines to protect LGBT rights, are exposed to disproportionately high levels of pressure and violence but often lack robust support in their immediate environment. Regional and global LGBT networks can play a vital role in connecting these individuals to new methods and ideas, giving them strength through belonging to a worldwide community, and being able to retreat from their daily struggles. Protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of these change-makers is essential to help them stay motivated to defend LGBT human rights over the long-term.

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum provides a safe space for human rights defenders and other committed citizens to come together, share their experiences, and join forces. Since 2013, the Forum has built a unique international network of government representatives, legal experts and cultural, artistic and religious leaders who have jointly created a stronger and broader sense of key themes affecting the whole LGBT community. 

*LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities.

Key Themes

Building on progress made since the founding of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in 2013, our May 2017 session focused on the theme of "Home" and addressed three interconnected issues:


Around the world, family provides home and a sense of belonging. But often families struggle to provide LGBT children with true home and safety. Due to the specific challenges LGBT individuals face regarding family rights, social inclusion/exclusion and legal challenges to the families they build, much more needs to be done to ensure that 'home' can indeed be a place of safety. Where exclusion cannot be prevented, it seriously impacts not only those driven from home but also the families and communities they are forced to leave behind.

LGBT Migration and Refugees

Several countries now recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as a valid ground to seek asylum. However, even after LGBT asylum seekers arrive in a new country, discrimination and persecution in different forms often follow them in asylum centers. Like other refugees, LGBT individuals need assistance and public support to address the traumas they have undergone and to settle in a new society. Unfortunately, many public service providers are unaware of LGBT issues or how to address them. Many of the prejudices that cause LGBT individuals to flee in the first place linger on, notably in public housing and in the refugees’ own diaspora communities.

Safety and Security

Although a particular concern for LGBT refugees and transgender individuals, hate speech and physical violence are a growing danger for LGBT individuals of all walks of life. And as populist and exclusionist rhetoric becomes increasingly prominent in print and online media and in political discourses, it is more important than ever to ensure the personal safety and mental wellbeing of those at the front lines of human rights defense. Enabling LGBT community leaders to defend their online identities and activities will allow them to spread their message (as well as the means of self-protection themselves) to audiences in a more open environment that is often the case "on the ground".

Series Overview

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in cooperation between its Founder and Chair, Dr. Klaus Mueller (kmlink Consultancy) and Salzburg Global Seminar to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance the LGBT and Human Rights discussions around the world.  Its signature is the truly global representation of leaders from diverse fields – including human rights, legal, artistic and religious backgrounds. 
The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is a network of expertise through which we facilitate conversations needed to advance equal rights for LGBT people across the world. The Forum currently includes representatives from more than 65 countries, facilitating an open dialogue on critical issues facing LGBT communities in diverse contexts – from China, to India, to Russia, to Uganda, to Venezuela.

Please click here to learn more about the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum.


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Session Photos

Photos from Salzburg

View full set on Flickr

Photos from Berlin

View full set on Flickr

Five Year Report

Building a Global Community: The First Five Years

Download the Report as a PDF (lo-res)