Salzburg Global Fellows Travel to Berlin for Global LGBT Forum

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May 17, 2014
by Louise Hallman
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Salzburg Global Fellows Travel to Berlin for Global LGBT Forum

Second Global LGBT Forum to be held since its launch in Salzburg last year to be hosted by the German Foreign Ministry

 

Left to right: Julia Stepan (Salzburg Global staff); Kasha Nabagesera and Dennis Wamala from Uganda, Olga Lenkova from Russia, Geetanjali Misra from India, Dan Zhou from China, Tamara Adrian from Venezuela, Sudeshan Reddy from South Africa, Pooja Badarinth from India

Front row: Klaus Mueller and Wanja Kilber from Germany, Georges Azzi from Lebanon, Ben Glahn (Salzburg Global staff)

 


Humankind’s strength is its diversity. Free expression of sexuality and gender increasingly defines the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century. But progress is uneven. In 2011, the first UN Resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity was supported by over 40 countries. Yet in many others, governments still legitimize and sponsor violence against LGBT citizens through legal discrimination, condoned police violence and hate speech.

To address this uneven progress, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed in June 2013 to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance the LGBT and Human Rights discussions around the world.  

This weekend, ten participants of the first Forum, together with three new members will meet in Berlin for the second Global LGBT Forum, hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office, looking at the specific ways that LGBT issues are addressed by ministries of foreign affairs and their embassies across the globe, but especially in the global South and East, and how their support for human rights issues can help to ensure that LGBT and other human rights organizations, embassies, and other actors can build closer networks and more effective relationships.

Speaking about the decision to partner with the German Federal Foreign Office, Global LGBT Forum Chair, Klaus Mueller said: “Our partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office, I believe, is driven by two shared perspectives: to strengthen cooperation that, while established, is relatively new for both sides: LGBT groups would benefit from better understanding procedures and protocols of the Foreign Office; the Ministry struggles to build continuous engagement with groups that in many countries operate under extreme pressure, are fragile, or even illegal. We both believe this new relationship should not be taken for granted, but nurtured through regular meetings. 

“And we both struggle with a growing global polarization on questions around sexual orientation and gender identity. How can we react to the fact that not only the struggle for LGBT rights has gone global, but hate too - and that trans- and homophobia are more and more connected globally?”

He also pointed out that the German Federal Foreign Office has supported the Global LGBT Forum from the start, and that the series of meetings over three days with colleagues from across the Ministry and other embassies is a direct follow-up of the work started at Schloss Leopoldskron, home of Salzburg Global Seminar, last year. 

The Berlin meetings of the Global LGBT Forum will bring together human rights leaders from around the world: Tamara Adrian from Venezuela, Kasha Nabagesera and Dennis Wamala from Uganda, Olga Lenkova from Russia, Dan Zhou from China, Geetanjali Misra and Pooja Badarinth from India, Sudeshan Reddy from South Africa, Georges Azzi from Lebanon, Fadi Saleh from Syria, and Wanja Kilber and Klaus Mueller from Germany. A full list of all members of the Global LGBT Forum network (including those who will not be present in Berlin) is available on the newly launched website: lgbt.salzburgglobal.org

Besides the ten representatives from the German Federal Foreign Office, which is actively engaging their own experts to deepen participants’ understanding of relevant diplomatic procedures, structures and potentials, representatives from the German Ministry of Family Affairs, the European External Action Service, the Dutch Embassy, as well as experts from Frontline Defenders, Tactical Tech and Transgender Europe and other international human rights organizations will be joining meetings and conversations over the course of the three day program.

The program will comprise a two-day working group of global LGBT activists and other stakeholders followed by a jointly organized public symposium at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. 

The public symposium will include staff based at multiple embassies in Berlin, journalists, other government agencies, human rights groups and LGBT human rights activists. It will explore the specific questions raised above and highlight examples and lessons learnt from where ministries of foreign affairs, human rights groups, and LGBT human rights groups have worked together effectively. 


You can follow all the conversations from the Global LGBT Forum in Berlin on Twitter via the hashtag #SGSlgbt. Interviews and recaps will be posted to the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/545