Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community




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Jan 29, 2018
by Clare Shine
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Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community

Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine reflects on the first five years of the LGBT Forum and the publication of major new report, Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum - Building a Global Community

Since 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has challenged current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. Founded in the aftermath of war at a precarious time in world history, Salzburg Global’s young founders imagined a “Marshall Plan of the Mind” – a frontier initiative to regenerate intellectual and cultural exchange and lay the building blocks for peaceful and flourishing societies.

Fast forward 70 years and Salzburg Global has an unbroken track record of connecting change-makers across sectors, regions and generations. Over 30,000 Fellows from 170 countries have come together through our multi-year programs to tackle complex problems and advance leadership and innovation for a better world, and our expanding network of partners has built alliances for systems transformation.

Throughout Salzburg Global’s history, the rule of law and protection of human rights have played a central role in our programming and impact – as critical elements for personal dignity and well-being, equality and social cohesion, successful economies and effective international relations. With this track record, the decision to create the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was a natural and logical, yet bold, step.

In 2013, LGBT rights were rising fast up the international agenda. Yet governments in 78 countries – around 40 percent of the world’s nations – continued to legitimize and sponsor violence again their LGBT citizens. LGBT discrimination was becoming an issue in globalization, affecting freedom of movement and enterprise. The Forum set out to support better understanding of this evolving moral, legal, social and political landscape and to create a safe, neutral platform for exchange between decisive global voices, bridging the worlds of politics, law, diplomacy, creative arts, religion and media.

Much has changed since 2013. Many countries have seen LGBT progress in family law, court judgments, school policies and corporate diversity. In 2015, 193 countries committed to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals that apply to all people without discrimination and to “leave no one behind.” Yet, despite this ambition, basic rights related to family, housing, health, employment and safety are still threatened or non-existent for LGBT people and communities in many parts of the world. Being truly “at home” remains out of reach for LGBT individuals excluded from their families, cultures or countries.

Salzburg Global Seminar seeks to drive impact at three levels: individuals, institutions and ideas. This is embedded in the Forum’s design and in our new reflective publication, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community.

Download the report as a PDF
The Forum enables outstanding people to share deeply personal stories away from the limelight, forge new strategies and build greater resilience. Some of their stories are woven into this report and can also be found on our website

Our Forum sessions in Salzburg, Berlin and Chiang Rai have enabled partners from government and civil society to explore root causes and regional, cultural and societal dynamics that underpin continuing discrimination, helping them better understand ways to advance policies and practice. You can read about how we have contributed to these new alliances and partnerships in Building International Connections and Alliances and Engaging with Governments & Institutions.

The Forum supports thought leadership through a rich mix of film and cultural products, policy contributions and year-round exchange. In Telling Our Own Stories we profile some of the influencers and creative artists who have been involved in the Forum network since 2013. You can also read testimonials from dozens of our Fellows throughout the report.

We are proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and salute the dedication of its Founder and Chair Klaus Mueller, our Fellows from now 70 countries, our partners and our staff. Together, they have made these achievements possible.

Salzburg Global Seminar is committed to advance the Sustainable Development Goals through our program portfolio and our network activities around the world. We believe that continued leadership and action for LGBT equality, well-being and family rights are fundamental to this aim and look forward to expanding the Forum’s global contribution in the years to come.

Creating Impact

Defining Family

Seeking Safety

Addressing Trans Issues

Telling Our Own Stories

Building International Connections & Alliances

Engaging with Governments & Institutions

Looking Forward

* LGBT: 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, groups or terms, either historical or contemporary.