Engaging with Governments and Institutions




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Jan 29, 2018
by Klaus Mueller
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Engaging with Governments and Institutions

The sixth chapter of our new publication Building a Global Community explores our engagement with governments and institutions in order to advance LGBT rights

“Strengthening human rights across the world is a priority of Germany’s foreign policy. To achieve this goal, building sustainable networks of human rights defenders is of course of central importance. These can be formalized networks in the form of human rights organizations like those that many of you represent, but also more fluid networks, such as the one you are building with the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum.

— Christoph Straesser, Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, Germany, May 2014

The free expression of sexuality and gender identity has become a defining characteristic of tolerant, pluralistic and democratic societies in the 21st century. In the context of the continuing globalization of the LGBT human rights movement, positive advances of and backlashes against LGBT rights are now interconnected at a previously unseen scale. While equal rights for LGBT people are increasingly understood as fundamental human rights, we also witness a rise of homo- and transphobia as a marker of cultural identity, national sovereignty or religious purity. More often than not, homo- and transphobia also work as tools to discredit the notion of universal human rights in general. Hate, bullying, legal discrimination, rape, or murder due to sexual orientation or gender identity occur around the world. In 78 countries, governments legitimize and sponsor violence. But even where LGBT people benefit from legal protection and growing acceptance within society, history still looms large, as there also, they were seen as dispensable only decades or years ago.

Since its inception in 2013, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has closely worked with governments through both public and behind-the-scenes conversations and partnerships. Through targeted consultative meetings and publications, the LGBT Forum has provided advice to and learned directly from those designing national policies and initiatives. Our Ambassadors Night event has become a strong feature of our sessions, convening ambassadors and law makers from a growing number of countries on the advancement of LGBT equality. Engaged countries include Austria, Bhutan, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Sweden, South Korea, Ukraine, the UK, the US and Venezuela. Intergovernmental organizations whose representatives actively support the Forum’s work include UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF, the European Union, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European External Action Service and the World Bank.

The challenges confronting the LGBT and human rights movements are no longer only national or regional but are influenced by a multitude of factors at the global level. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is continuing to strengthen (in) formal connections between human rights groups, embassies, government agencies and international development agencies to advance civil dialogue.


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