LGBT Forum Examines the Importance of "Home - Safety, Wellness, and Belonging"




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May 09, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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LGBT Forum Examines the Importance of "Home - Safety, Wellness, and Belonging"

Fifth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum will address interconnected issues of LGBT rights, family, migration, and safety Picture credit: Prachatai

Home is where the heart is. No matter where you are, home is always the place where you long to be. Having a sense of belonging, connection, and wellbeing is when we feel "at home." For many LGBT* individuals, however, being "at home" isn't possible. In some cases, they are made to feel excluded from their families, cultures, and country of origin.

While much progress has been made to embed LGBT rights as a fundamental part of the global human rights agenda, legislative discrimination, social alienation, and hate speech remain in areas of the world that affect the safety of LGBT people. Each of us has the right to live safely within the culture and countries in which we have grown up.

This year’s session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging, will bring together 60 participants to tackle the challenges as mentioned above and other issues connected to LGBT human rights. People from all regions of the world will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron between May 14 and 19 to take part in these discussions under the theme of “Home.”

A select number of Fellows will then travel on to Berlin with Salzburg Global LGBT Forum founder and chair, Klaus Mueller, for an event Family Is...? - A Global Portrait on Friday, May 19.

The group as a whole will represent diverse communities and professions, bringing together artists, human rights activists, political leaders, cultural and political LGBT organizations, lawmakers and lawyers. This session will have an emphasis on younger leaders who will be at the forefront of change for much of this century.

This year’s session will address three interconnected issues: family, LGBT migration and refugees, and safety and security. Families often struggle to give LGBT children a real sense of home and safety. Much more needs to be done to ensure this doesn’t remain the status quo. While several countries recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as a grounds to offer asylum, further work is needed to assist LGBT individuals once they arrive in these countries. Many of the prejudices that cause LGBT people to flee can linger in asylum centers, public housing, and the refugees’ diaspora communities. Hate speech and physical violence are a growing danger for LGBT individuals. It is important to maintain the safety and wellbeing of those fighting for LGBT human rights.

This year’s session is being held in partnership with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth, with with further support from the Archangel Michael Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the EVZ Stiftung, the Austrian Development Cooperation, the UNDP’s Being LGBTI in Asia program and the Canadian Embassy in Vienna. 

The session will continue the work of the three-year project "Family Is...?", a video series chronicling the experiences of LGBT people and the families they are born into, the families they choose, and the families they are raising. The follow-on event in Berlin is being hosted by the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth and guests will be welcomed by State Secretary Ralf Kleindiek. The event marks the culmination of a three-year collaboration between Salzburg Global Seminar and the Ministry, and Family Is...? - A Global Conversation, a short film produced from the collected interviews will receive its official premiere.

The Salzburg session will enable participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another. The session will also help to raise awareness of the progress and remaining challenges for LGBT rights around the world, and participants will identify concrete steps to advance positive change. To help transform words into action, the Forum will include skills workshops relevant to participants’ wants and needs. Participants will learn storytelling techniques and how social media can be used to reach diverse communities. Participants can take away these skills to share with others from their local LGBT and human rights communities. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum will continue to provide participants a safe, welcoming retreat with the opportunity to recharge and speak freely.

*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.

The fifth session of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging is taking place at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg. It is being held in partnership with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth. The Forum is a network of expertise through which conversations are facilitated to advance equal rights for LGBT people across the world. You can follow the event on Twitter, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #SGSlgbt. For more information, please visit