LGBT Forum - Day Two - Salzburg Global Fellows in High-Level Meeting with Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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May 20, 2014
by Sudeshan Reddy and Klaus Mueller
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LGBT Forum - Day Two - Salzburg Global Fellows in High-Level Meeting with Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Salzburg Global Fellows meet with LGBT Human Rights Officer, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, joined by expert representatives from the European External Action Service and Frontline Defenders Kasha Nabagesera, Founder and former Executive Director of FARUG in Kampala, Uganda

Saskia Helsdingen, the LGBT Human Rights Officer at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, generously came from The Hague to brief the Global LGBT Forum at the Dutch Embassy in Berlin on Monday, May 19, with Michael Pistecky, Deputy Head of the Political Section at Dutch Embassy welcoming the group. 

Equal rights for LGBT people are a key priority for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Helsdingen presented on how the Dutch government implements this priority in both bilateral and multilateral negotiations. The Netherlands strives for coherence in its national and international policies to ensure full equality for all, with three major goals: to abolish the criminalization of homosexuality and transgender; to oppose discrimination of LGBT people and communities, and to achieve wider social acceptance.

Kasha Nabagesera, Founder and former Executive Director of FARUG in Kampala, Uganda, emphasized the need for developing ad-hoc risk funds and emergency policies, such as facilitating Schengen visas for leading human rights defenders. Due to the high risks LGBT human rights defenders are now facing in Uganda and other countries, a rapid escape out of the country at times might be the only way to secure their safety.    

The discussion what the Netherlands, Germany and the European Union can do to improve the security of human rights defenders who continue to work in their countries despite the risk of being arrested or physically attacked was also joined by two leading experts from Brussels and Ireland. Both traveled to Berlin to meet with the Global LGBT Forum and participate in the meetings.

Riccardo Serri, Deputy Head of Division on Human Rights Strategy and Policy Implementation at the European External Action Service (EEAS), outlined how the EEAS engages on LGBT human rights, with the EU guidelines for supporting LGBTI people's human rights as a strong base document. The EU guidelines are for use by EU staff around the world and by EU countries' national embassies and were developed to help LGBT human rights through a variety of concrete measures and recommendations, such as demarches and public statements, court hearings and prison visits, political dialogues, and support for international mechanisms and efforts by civil society. They provide a checklist for assessing LGBTI human rights issues and now explicitly cover the rights of transgender and intersex people.

Andrea Rocca, from Frontline Defenders, shared the mandate of his Foundation which works to provide fast and effective support to human rights defenders globally at risk so that they can continue their work as key agents of social change.

The discussion on these central aspects of security made clear that appropriate and effective ad-hoc risk reactions for human rights defenders are in urgent need to be developed further, and the Global LGBT Forum hopes to use the now-established contacts to help facilitate this change.


The Salzburg Global Fellows in Berlin, with the support and partnership of the German Federal Foreign Office, are taking part in the high-level program Creating Long-Term Global Networks to Sustain LGBT Human Rights Organizations and will be conducting meetings with the German Foreign Office, representatives of foreign embassies, human rights groups, and other select partners. For meeting summaries and Tweets, please see the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/545 and the Twitter hashtag #SGSlgbt

* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, terms or groups.