Upcoming Program


Worldwide, LGBT people are insisting on their inclusion in religious and cultural traditions; and religious congregations across all denominations have begun to interpret their own beliefs in more inclusive ways. Such positive changes are still nascent, and they must be supported and expanded to achieve LGBT equality globally. 

In 2020, the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum will begin a new initiative to address issues of religion, cultural history, and LGBT inclusion (and exclusion), convening LGBT human rights defenders and cultural and religious leaders across faiths, geographies, and generations. By bridging divides, the Forum aims to strengthen inclusive cooperation between religious and LGBT leaders, and their communities. 

* 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 non-conforming identities. 



In 2015, thirty leaders representing Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh organizations issued a formal joint expression of support for ending poverty by 2030. In 2017, many of the world’s most prominent religious leaders made a joint statement encouraging people everywhere to make friends across religions and to counter the idea that people view each other’s religions with distrust or disdain ― and to potentially even reduce violence conducted in the name of religion. In March 2019, participants at an interfaith conference emphasized the role of religions in contributing to the implementation and achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  
All of these initiatives emphasize the potential positive impact of religion, and over centuries, faith-based organizations have proven adept at providing quality public services at scale, making valuable financial contributions toward social improvements, educating and advocating for positive change, and developing trust across otherwise conflicting groups (racial, ethnic, ideological, geographic, etc.).

However, despite the “leave no one behind” ethic of the SDGs, and the core beliefs of tolerance and love at the heart of most of the world’s religions, many religious communities continue to exclude LGBT people from their ranks, ignore their role in religious and cultural traditions, and actively contribute to the suffering afflicting LGBT communities. A globally connected movement towards more intolerance, on the basis of religion and the “protection of the family” and with a strong anti-gender agenda, makes itself felt in Europe, Russia, parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia. In fact, LGBT people remain some of the world’s most vulnerable in matters of health, economic wellbeing, education, political and civic participation, and personal security and violence. This makes it all the more important that they are included in the benefits sought by these interfaith appeals and religious calls to action. 

Thankfully, such historical exclusion is beginning to dissolve. Worldwide, LGBT people are insisting on their inclusion in religious and cultural traditions; and religious leaders and their congregations across all denominations have begun to interpret their own beliefs in ways that are more inclusive. In a 2018 Declaration of the National Consultation on Interfaith Engagement with Human Sexuality and Gender Diversity, the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) emphasized “the innate ability of each faith community to understand, accept and celebrate gender, sexual and sexuality identities.” 

The Church of Sweden, in collaboration with the Global Interfaith Network, has produced two books addressing human sexuality and human dignity from the perspective of a range of faith traditions. Such positive changes are still nascent, however, and they must be supported, promoted, and expanded to achieve the potential they represent for advancing equality globally. To this end, in July 2020, Salzburg Global Seminar will begin a new initiative of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum to address issues of religion, cultural history, and LGBT inclusion (and exclusion) in religious communities: “Faith Is…?” 


Starting with a four-day program in Salzburg in July 2020, the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum will begin an exploration of the ways in which religious and cultural leaders, congregations, and LGBT people can together form inclusive and supportive communities of understanding. 
The program will bring together LGBT human rights defenders and cultural and religious leaders across faiths, geographies, and generations to explore faith in LGBT communities, and LGBT in faith communities. By bridging these divides, the program will provide insights about the relationships between religious leaders and their communities and about how change happens in different contexts and faiths (including both in formal and informal religious structures, congregations, traditional belief systems and wider communities). 


The 2020 program of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum will bring together 30-40 participants from a global range of religious and cultural backgrounds and welcome participants from all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Acknowledging that individual participants will often play multiple personal and professional roles, the program will seek those with experience as:

  • Activists, community leaders, and emerging young voices advancing LGBT equality;
  • Religious leaders including clergy and laity, and leaders of faith-based organizations;
  • Artists, journalists, filmmakers, social media experts, photographers, researchers, and writers.


Through a series of highly interactive program elements over the course of four days, participants will expand global connections for support and knowledge-sharing within and beyond the program, and support the next generation of LGBT leaders. All participants will take on responsibilities within the program, as moderators, working groups conveners or discussants in thematic conversations.

Participants in the July meeting of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum will also contribute to the co-design of the forward strategy of the “Faith Is…?” Project. 

This strategy will identify opportunities for the project to influence public debate and shift mindsets through the creation and dissemination of stories, publications, video testimonials, and social media campaigns. 

The Forum will reflect upon ways that can influence specific audiences including community, cultural, and religious leaders; national, international, and local policymakers; media multipliers; foundations; and others. These efforts will build on the experience gained in the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum’s “Family Is…?” Project , which explored the definition of family and the position of LGBT family members, including in their families of birth, their families of choice, and the families they raise.


While the July 2020 program in Salzburg will set the stage for future activities of the “Faith Is…?” project, it will also achieve a number of outcomes in its own right. The meeting will:

  • Initiate an online collection including materials depicting the role of LGBT people and gender diversity in religious practices, traditions, and communities as well as resources and initiatives that integrate religious core values in ways that promote LGBT tolerance;
  • Capture for broader dissemination examples of 1) how religious belief and religious communities have proven instrumental in promoting the wellbeing and equality of LGBT people and in fostering general acceptance of LGBTI people in wider society; 2) how LGBT people have enriched the religious communities of which they are a part; and 3) how religious leaders and lay people have pressed for more tolerance in their religious communities; 
  • Identify how religious leaders can create a common dialogue with each other and raise the baseline for tolerance within their faith / across faiths and identify potential but not yet active supporters within religious communities as well as strategies for motivating their action; and
  • Further develop and support participants by connecting them to the ongoing work of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum and its members across 72 countries. This global network is curated through regular updates delivered via email newsletters, the Forum’s website, and a secure member-only online community where members continue collaborations begun in Salzburg and forge new alliances within the Forum’s broader network.


  • How can we increase the visibility and impact of tolerant and inclusive attitudes towards LGBT people within religious traditions?
  • How can we combat the view that LGBT people and communities – despite much evidence in religious texts – are products of secular modernity?
  • How can we advocate for more inclusive understandings of the role of LGBT people and communities in religious traditions?
  • How can we best support and elevate the voices of religious leaders (including those from the ranks of both the ordained and laity) that promote inclusivity and equality for LGBT people and communities? 
  • How can we combat the voices of faith congregations that promote condemnation, violence, and hate for LGBT people within their own communities?



Salzburg Global Seminar is an international not-for profit institutions with offices and activities in multiple countries. A US 501(c)(3) institution, Salzburg Global Seminar's annual budget is set US Dollars and program fees are calculated on $5,150 per person basis for 4-5 day programs and $3,600 per person for 2-3 day programs. Annual exchange rate calculations for program fees in EUR are calculated using an average of previous years.

The individual fee rates for Salzburg Global Seminar sessions in 2020 are:

  • 4-5 days session - US $5,150 or €4,550
  • 2-3 days session - US $3,600 or €3,200

This fee covers the cost of the program, program materials, accommodation and meals. The fee does not cover travel costs to Salzburg.

Scholarships and Discounts: In order to gather individuals from a wide variety of sectors and countries, where funding allows, Salzburg Global may be able to offer a limited number of scholarships and discounts to participants and Fellows from universities, research institutes, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations, and public officials from developing (non-OECD) countries. If you would like to apply for a scholarship or discount, please send your CV or brief bio and personal statement to

After your registration for a session is accepted, payment is due within five (5) business days after receipt of the confirmation. Payment can be made via credit card (Mastercard or Visa) or by bank transfer.

Cancellation Fees: In case of cancellation, a participant may transfer registration to another member of the participant's organization (city, department, firm, etc.) upon mutual agreement. Alternatively:

  • Cancellation more than 60 days before the program: 100% refund
  • Cancellation less than 60 days and more than 30 days before the event: 50% refund
  • Cancellation less than 30 days, but more than 14 days: 25% refund
  • Cancellation less than 14 days: no refund