Global LGBT Forum

Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Louise Hallman 

“How does a relatively small but influential NGO help shape a better world? That is the question Salzburg Global Seminar set out to answer as we entered our 70th anniversary year,” explains Salzburg Global President & CEO, Stephen L. Salyer in this year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle

Founded in 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has the mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. Our multi-year program series aim to bridge divides, expand collaboration and transform systems. 


This year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle puts forth this renewed mission and strategic framework of the 70-year-old organization through a series of features and mini profiles of our Fellows and their projects.

A Positive Space in a Polarizing World
From Students to Statesmen

Combined Efforts, Maximum Effect 
From Ideas to Impact

Radical Reinvention
From Local to Global


The Chronicle also announced the launch of Salzburg Global’s largest-ever fundraising campaign. Inspiring Leadership: The Campaign for Salzburg Global Seminar will seek to raise $18 million over the next three years to expand our scholarship program, invest in developing innovative solutions to complex problems and secure this organization and our historic home of Schloss Leopoldskron for generations to come. 

“Campaigns are about vision. They support critical, compelling and transformational priorities,” states Salyer. “The Campaign Inspiring Leadership  — gift by gift, investment by investment — will empower people, policies, and placemaking that can transform the world.” 

For the Love of Humankind
From Scholarships to Schloss Renovations


Now in its fifth year, this year’s Chronicle is for the first time accompanied by a “Yearbook.” As Clare Shine, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer explains: “Our 2017 Yearbook draws these rich strands together. It provides an overview of our activities and partnerships in Salzburg and around the world, highlighting our multi-year program goals and the concrete outcomes driving short and longer-term impact. We wish you good reading and look forward to working with you in the future.”

Download the Yearbook (PDF)

You can read all the stories and download both sections of the 2018 President’s Report on the dedicated webpage: 


Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years
Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years
Louise Hallman 

Since 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has challenged current and future leaders to shape a better world. For seventy years, our Fellows have tackled issues of global concern including education, health, environment, economics, governance, peace-building, the rule of law and protection of human rights. 

Since 2013, the advancement of LGBT human rights has joined that list of issues as we seek to shape a better world for everyone – including people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Founded five years ago, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance LGBT human rights discussions around the world. 

Today, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is an international network that connects over 150 Fellows in 70 countries across six continents, spanning multiple sectors, generations, cultures and sexual orientations and gender identities.

This new, 200-page publication, Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years, chronicles the first five years of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: the Fellows’ stories that they’ve shared, the wide-ranging issues we’ve addressed, and the impact the Forum has had on individuals, institutions and ideas advancing LGBT human rights around the world.

The report was generously supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

“Fundamental human rights concern us all. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum brings together queer and straight, representing gender in many expressions, in short: people with overlapping, changing identities. Whether homo-, bi- or heterosexual, cis-, inter- or transgender, our diverse backgrounds and lives are connected by our shared interest to advance LGBT equality globally.”

— Dr. Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum

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.”

— Clare Shine, Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar

“I am extremely proud of how the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has advanced human rights... Public understanding and public policy have advanced considerably, but the challenges across the world remain great. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is a place where they can be addressed.”

— Stephen L. Salyer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar

“For our ministry, it has been very important to support the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum financially… For us, it is important to make visible these different situations as they exist in Europe and in other parts of the world, and this includes discussing the problems too. We learn from the LGBT Forum how discussions in Germany influence other countries, and how their discussions in other countries influence us in Germany.”

— Ralf Kleindiek, German State Secretary for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Download the report as a PDF

* 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.

Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community
Clare Shine with Salzburg Global LGBT Fellows, Negede Gezahegn and Noël Iglessias, Salzburg Global LGBT Founder and Chair, Klaus Mueller, and Salzburg Global Vice President Benjamin Glahn.
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community
Clare Shine 

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.

A Journey Into Uncharted Territory
Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum opens the first session in 2013 – LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges,
A Journey Into Uncharted Territory
Klaus Mueller 

I would like to profoundly thank Salzburg Global Seminar for embracing LGBT equality as a topic of global concern and for wholeheartedly supporting the idea to create the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum five years ago. This has been a journey into uncharted territory, and without Salzburg Global’s expertise in convening global gatherings and catalyzing collaboration, the Forum would not have grown to what it has become today – a network of over 150 Fellows from 70 countries.

Our Origins

The idea seemed right and worthy from the beginning: to help advance LGBT equality worldwide through a global forum of LGBT human rights defenders and supporters from many different countries, backgrounds, and disciplines. But the question remained: was there a need? Seeking answers, and over the course of two years, we dedicated ourselves to understanding how we could best support these efforts before the Forum’s inaugural session in 2013.

I personally first learned about the power of a truly global gathering in 2000 when I participated in a visionary Salzburg Global session, Museums in the 21st Century, chaired by Marc Pachter, of The Smithsonian Institution, which expanded my horizons and fueled my writing on museums. Ten years later, in 2010, Salzburg Global invited me to take on an expanded role and serve as chair for their multi-year initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention to be developed in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for which I serve as the Museum’s European Representative.

This new role inspired and encouraged me to approach Salzburg Global independently in 2011 with the proposal to create a Global LGBT Forum to be jointly developed and hosted at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg Global Seminar’s home.

For the past thirty years, I have been working on issues at the intersection of LGBT human rights, history, memory, and culture, having started as an activist, focusing on the LGBT identity in the 19th century in my doctoral thesis, and later curating exhibitions, and writing and engaging in film productions. In developing the idea for the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, I recognized that in the rapidly globalizing world of the 21st century, LGBT human rights no longer seemed to be defined only by regional histories and cultures (if they ever were in the first place), but that they were increasingly shaped through global conversations, whether progressive or hostile.

Together with Salzburg Global, I conceived the Forum as a safe space to curate a truly global conversation on LGBT equality among diverse leaders from human rights, legal, artistic, and religious backgrounds. Free expressions of sexuality and gender define the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century, and our strength is rooted in our diversity.

In launching the Forum, we were entering new ground – from building new donor partnerships (thank you for your trust!) to curating a genuinely inclusive gathering where all would feel welcome and valued. We invited participants as the individuals they are, not as the representative of the institutions, NGOs or governments with which they are affiliated. In addition to being experts in their respective fields, they also brought their life experiences to our sessions.

Finally, in 2013, it was their voice that answered our original question: They told us that yes, there is a strong need and desire to develop a global, yet personal network – a network of trust that enables us to listen to each other and to join forces through diverse forms of collaboration and support. While communication across borders becomes ever more accessible through the internet, trust needs time.

The Forum is not a conference. It has become a safe space, our retreat, where we come together in person to comprehend the global interconnectedness of LGBT human rights, including progress and challenges. While we come from different places, cultures, histories and generations, we share commonalities in our views and experiences. But the Forum also provides a setting to acknowledge and explore our distinct personal, cultural, economic and religious differences. We come to listen, to learn, and to build connections. As with all Salzburg Global Seminar programs, our Forum strives to be a space where participants are “tough on the issues but kind to each other.”

Our Progress

Over the past five years, we have formed a growing network of expertise. In 2013, we started with participants from 34 countries and set our course with the Statement of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: Advancing human rights for LGBT people and communities. This framework of principles and priorities continues to guide our intersectional approach and lead themes.

In 2014, the German Federal Foreign Office invited us to Berlin to advise them on strengthening relations between embassies and LGBT human rights groups. In 2015, we returned to Salzburg and started our “Family is…” project with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, collecting testimonies for our global portrait of families today – ultimately producing over 40 video interviews and a short film Family is...? A Global Conversation, which we released this year.

In 2016, our first meeting in Asia took us to the small city of Chiang Rai, Thailand, to listen to and learn from a new generation of Asian leaders. This last year we gathered again at Schloss Leopoldskron with the focus on “Home” and refugees, collecting testimonies and strengthening our sense of a global community that has grown with each session.

As a network, we have developed the global perspectives that guide us year-round. It has been a steep learning curve, reacting to both crisis and progress, and little did we know how we would be challenged and changed in the process. The Forum’s meetings are not easy: there is both risk and comfort in bringing people from very different contexts together and striving to deepen understanding and trust. We increasingly recognize that LGBT rights as a concept expresses the aspiration and hope of a common cause even as our struggles are distinct. Sharing personal stories helps us to understand each other’s needs and worlds more fully.

Many Forum members are exceptionally strong leaders, bold activists and visionary artists and thinkers. Yet for some, it was the first time in their lives that they found a community where they felt they could share their personal story with others.

So many shared stories come to mind. We have been deeply moved by the strength of our two Ethiopian friends, Noël and Negede, who joined the Forum anonymously in 2015, and returned in 2017 as asylum seekers in Austria to build a new life. We were proud when Kasha Nabagesera from Uganda, who has come to all Forum sessions since 2013, appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. We were inspired by the amazing photographers, film directors and writers who introduced us to the realities of LGBT lives around the globe: of indigenous trans communities in the Venezuelan jungle, of a Filipino mother/filmmaker and her daughter, of LGBT families in Cambodia and of transgender communities in Mongolia. They showed us that one fiercely independent voice can make these lives – our lives – visible. More and more, we help each other with our projects and find ways to share them with larger audiences.

Fundamental human rights concern us all. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum brings together queer and straight, representing gender in many expressions, in short: people with overlapping, changing identities. Whether homo-, bi- or heterosexual, cis-, inter- or transgender, our diverse backgrounds and lives are connected by our shared interest to advance LGBT equality globally.

Since the Forum was launched in 2013, the world has witnessed the journey of communities and nations towards recognition of LGBT human rights and celebrated significant progress. Yet in many countries, we have been confronted with backlashes and many governments still legitimize and sponsor violence against LGBT citizens through legal discrimination, condoned police violence and hate speech. Our Forum has therefore expanded to build larger networks of support with government partners, international bodies and human rights and cultural organizations. Increasingly we are approached as a trusted facilitator for global conversations.


Being part of an emerging global community has changed us. Salzburg Global Seminar has become our home and itself has been changed in the process. Celebrating our fifth anniversary in the same year that Salzburg Global marks its 70th anniversary, the Forum is fully integrated within the major global programs in which Salzburg Global is engaged. All Salzburg Global’s staff have gone the proverbial extra mile, again and again, to help us reach our goals; enabled and guided by vice presidents Clare Shine and Benjamin Glahn, and with support from Salzburg Global president Stephen Salyer and former chief program officer and senior advisor Edward Mortimer.

With 2017 being a year of retrospection for Salzburg Global Seminar, we too looked back and unearthed untold stories that were shared at our fifth session this summer. This was archaeology of a different kind – a “Queering of the Schloss,” an acknowledgment that LGBT people have contributed to the history of Salzburg Global and to the earlier history of Schloss Leopoldskron in the time of Max Reinhardt, its pre-war owner and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival.

We learned about early beginnings, important voices, surprising guests. One discovery was made by anthropologist Saskia Wieringa in 2013, who realized that the statues in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Chinese Room were of the East Asian transgender deity Guanyin – a feature overlooked for almost a century. Her presence gave us an early sense of belonging as a protective deity for our endeavor. 
Historically, we know that LGBT-related stories were often suppressed or omitted. Our desire for a more inclusive and humane future also fuels our desire to reintegrate LGBT lives into a fuller understanding of our history.

Both our history and our future have to be written by ourselves. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is a fluid network that fully trusts its Fellows’ imagination and leadership to advance LGBT equality globally. As with other histories of prejudice, we know that homo- and transphobia will not disappear, but we hope they will in many places have less tragic consequences.

Klaus Mueller on why now is the time to create a Global LGBT Forum

Klaus Mueller on how the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has grown

Our Network

Our Donors

Our Gatherings

Our Statement

Creating Impact
Creating Impact
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum 

“I feel so good and alive, very fresh, and more motivated. Every year I get more amazed at how the Forum has grown and getting more informative, interesting, but also more focused on the issues that many of us neglect or forget about during our everyday work.” - Kasha Nabagesera, Executive Director, Kuchu Times Media Group, Uganda

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has been blessed with amazing leaders from around the globe engaging with each other, exploring commonalties and differences, sharing their challenges, and asking questions. Inspired and encouraged by each other and our sense of a global community, Fellows have returned to their home countries and often started new projects: a LGBT film festival; the English translation of a first novel in Arabic; a refocus of their organization; reaching and nurturing new allies in the business or diplomatic community; or finally making that film that had long lingered in their head and heart. Many of our Fellows report that the new projects they start and goals and methods they recalibrate are as a result of the encouragement and energy our sessions provide. We have seen young activists grow into aspiring leaders of their generation, and established leaders at the end of their professional career reconnect and offer larger perspectives and a sense of calm that comes with time.

In a nutshell, we are all overachievers. And the Forum gatherings give us the friendships and voices we need on our journeys through an increasingly connected world. Our Facebook group (unlisted and open only to Forum Fellows due to security concerns) has become our tool to promote, alert and embrace each other’s work. Many of these achievements are compiled into a periodic newsletter sent to a growing list of subscribers, as well as featured in the main Salzburg Global Seminar newsletter, sent to over 6000 recipients.

As a Forum, we have meticulously documented our sessions, chronicling daily panel discussions across several social media platforms to thousands of followers; published recommendations, adopted by governments and institutions; and made our conversations accessible in five session reports, over 100 articles; more than 80 video testimonies (viewed on Salzburg Global Seminar’s YouTube channel and Facebook page almost 30,000 times), and a 20-minute short film.

But what has impacted us most? It is the sense of being part of a global community. This is our fundamental truth: We have become a global community of trust. 

Throughout this report you can find testimonials from our Fellows on what they have gained from being part of our global network.

Cha Roque - Filmaker; Communications Director, Dakila Collective for Modern Heroism, Philippines

“I was invited to the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Chiang Rai in 2016. Aside from connecting with a lot of great people and hearing about their stories, there was a particular session in the Forum that rocked my foundation and gave a big impact to my life. I was a panelist in a Forum about raising an LGBT family when I was asked about my most precious memory with my daughter. This question made me realize I should keep making films that tell the stories of LGBT people – not only their struggles but also their triumphs. When I came back to Manila, I continued working on my film called ‘What I Would’ve Told My Daughter if I Knew What to Say Back Then’.…

… It has now been screened at a couple of international film festivals. If not for the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, I might not have had that motivation and push to make another film, and now that I just came from another of their sessions, I am once again inspired to make new films that will give a voice to LGBTs around the world. Thank you, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum!”

Elle Fersan - LGBTQ Activist, Middle East & North Africa, Lebanon / USA

“Capturing the transformational experience I had here at Salzburg in a few words is not an easy task; but if there is one thing I believe I added to this gathering it is helping activists at home understand the importance of engaging with those activists who have sought refuge or found their lives elsewhere for a host of reasons... We in Lebanon are starting this initiative to build Syrian leadership among the LGBT refugees in Lebanon so that they can take their skills and knowledge back home once the war ends...

...Indeed, everyone realizes that we as human rights defenders cannot continue to rely on international aid to push our agendas forward. Reversing the brain drain into a brain capital is thus essential, and we, as activists in the diaspora, can only do that when we are accepted and embraced in our homes of origin. Thank you for being that connecting bridge and for offering the avenue of dialogue and redemption. It is undeniable that the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum fosters a ‘South-to-South’ dialogue that is otherwise impossible given the security constraints and the difficulty in calling for such a Forum in our parts of the world.”

Sukhdeep Singh - Founder & Editor in Chief, Gaylaxy Magazine, India

“The last week has been the most amazing and inspiring week of my life! I have spent the whole week with the president of IDAHOT, gay Syrian refugees, the first married lesbian couple of Japan, Russian activists helping Chechen gay men flee to other countries …

… activists from Uganda, China, Vietnam, Lebanon, South Africa, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, and many more such countries doing so many amazing, powerful and courageous things to make this world a better place! This is going to take some time to sink in… Phew! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Angeline Jackson - Founder & Executive Director, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, Jamaica

“The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from persons within LGBT advocacy whom I consider to be the best within our movement. I appreciated being able to share ideas and advocacy strategies with activists from various parts of the world. Sometimes hearing directly what one person is doing in another part of the world can help to give ideas about what one can do in their own country...

...From this Forum, I walked away not just with valuable connections but also ideas for new ways to possibly challenge Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, the use of videos to engage people and change hearts and minds, and possible country exchanges with activists from Latin America and Jamaica... The best part for me was hearing women and lesbian and bisexual women clearly stating the challenges within the movement without being told to be quiet or being pushed to the sidelines. I’ve very honored to have been invited to this Forum and plan to package this knowledge along with others I have learned and begin training small groups of activists in Jamaica.”

Ying Xin - Executive Director, Beijing LGBT Center, China

“This is my first time to attended a LGBT forum including activists, artists, scholars from all over the world. It really helped me to know the whole picture of the LGBT movement around world, which has really inspired me to make more connections with other countries. I learned from one of the participants from Africa that it was very hard and dangerous to do LGBT work in some African countries. I felt that it was not so bad in China, and if even this African Fellow can persist in their struggle in such a bad situation, how could we give up in China? …

… During this Forum, I also learnt different perspectives and strategies from other people. After the Forum meeting, I talked a lot with a participant from Argentina who works with IDAHOT and another one from the Asia Pacific Transgender Network: We have already planned to collaborate more on trans issues in Asia. I really like the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and will recommend it to more Chinese activists and scholars to attend. By the way, the team of this Forum is also lovely and awesome!”

Danilo da Silva - Executive Director, Lambda, Mozambique

“There are very few spaces were queer activists, scholars, artists and politicians meet and discuss current and pressing issues with a global perspective, come out with common goals and an invigorating feeling that we are indeed a global community that need to learn from and share with each other …

… My experience in the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum had a profound impact not only in the way I perceive the global struggle for equality but also in the work I do here in Mozambique. After the meeting I have established relationships with other activists across the globe. We stay connected and have been able to come up with some concrete actions to promote the health and rights of LGBT, and also document and share our advocacy experiences. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

Amy Lamé - Performer, Writer and Broadcaster, UK

“I was invited to take part in the first ever Salzburg Global Seminar session on an LGBT theme. Meeting people from all over the globe fighting for LGBT human rights was hugely inspirational. While in Salzburg I realized I needed to do more, and I returned to the UK invigorated and determined …

… Realizing a long – and quietly – held ambition, I stood for Parliamentary selection for the Labour Party. Unfortunately, I was not successful, but I am continuing my journey in politics and I intend to stand again. And win. Salzburg Global spurred me on to think bigger, do better, make a real difference. I will always be thankful for the invitation to take part in the session – it changed my life.”

Benjamin Cantu - Filmaker, Germany / Hungary

“My participation in the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has been highly inspirational as a filmmaker and empowering from a human experience, both in the long-run.Within a few days I learned a lot about the current situation of LGBT individuals and groups from all corners of the world. Especially important to me was the intense dialogue with people from a trans background. I extended my network of friends and partners, with whom I want to collaborate in the future.

The film „Weil ich bin wer ich bin“ / “Je suis qui je suis” that I presented during the Forum in an exclusive preview already gained much from the Forum’s network during our production as Founder and Chair Klaus Mueller connected us with artists and writers in Cambodia, Namibia and Morocco who are part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. He also shared the global perspectives the Forum had worked on for
the last years. After the film’s screening, I was instantly invited by many members of the community to future screenings in Uganda, Argentina, Japan and China. The Forum also empowered me as an individual to participate more in human rights causes, beyond filmmaking.”

Bradley Secker - Photojournalist, Turkey / UK

"The experience for me was one of great optimism. Activists, and prominent LGBT+ supporters and individuals from around the world in one place made for plenty of informative discussions, more understanding and a sense of more unity overall. I often feel rather isolated in my work on LGBT topics, so it’s reassuring to know that there are many others out there doing the same…

… Schloss Leopoldskron was the perfect venue, private yet vibrant. I felt truly free and safe for the first time in a while to be honest, which helped open us all up to honest debates. I hope to not only stay connected with many of the Fellows, but also to hopefully work alongside some of them with my photojournalism in the near and distant future."

Kaoru Aoyama - Professor, Contemporary Culture and Society, Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, University of Kobe, Japan

“The week of Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was a week of effective retreat. Away from our ‘real lives’ [we had] an opportunity to immerse ourselves in indeed ‘real’ ideals based on solidarity. It was also an opportunity of re-creating my sense of belonging to a community for me. To know the different meanings of being sexual or gender minorities in various cultural and political situations opened a new door. It was a real education to me to have a chance to listen to and talk directly to friends from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bhutan, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Lebanon and Syria …

… I felt reassured that my belief as an empirical sociologist was proven: it is always better to meet actual persons who go through that experience to get a sense of what’s going on in a society, however this is a small initial step to know more. This was also seriously the first time for me not to see any antagonisms between gays and lesbians, between trans- and cisgenders or between men and women in an ‘LGBT’ gathering! I will always remember one of the seminar’s concluding remarks: ‘If you want to make allies, you should be an ally to others,’ with the understanding, the trust and the care the friends in the seminar granted me.”

Palitha Vijaya Bandara - Coordinator, Positive Hopes Alliance, Sri Lanka

“I have seen, conducted and experienced many workshops at country level, but I can whole-heartedly say this was one of the most unique and fulfilling experiences in my life. I was enamored by the event from the point of conception itself, however, the use of distinctive methodologies and techniques created a platform where I felt comfortable enough to freely express my opinion and grow in a progressive manner…

…We are now connected through Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Facebook group. It is very good opportunity everyone sharing their own country situation through social media, continue to exchange ideas and learn about progress and difficulties in other countries. I look forward to translate this knowledge and implement our future work to ground level initiatives in Sri Lanka.”

Juan M. Pigot - Chairman, PAREA, Suriname

“It was obvious that everybody felt at home and safe. The five days went by in a blink of an eye. I’m now back home with good memories I will have for the rest of my life, new friendships but above all positive energy. Yes, we can learn from one another. Yes, we can inspire one another. And yes, we can change the world if we want to. That’s what I brought back from Salzburg. I hope that the successful Salzburg Global LGBT Forum will live on and will keep inspiring more people from around the world.”

Martin Vidaurre Vaca - National Chief, Iguales ante la Ley (Equal before the Law), Casilla, Bolivia

“This experience has greatly supported me in the work I do in Bolivia in favor of the human rights of the LGBT population as one consequence of the meeting in Salzburg. I inform you that we have held in Bolivia a meeting with diplomats from embassies of countries that have made progress on human rights of LGBTI people, such as the European Union, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, among others.”

Kasha Nabagesera - “My Motivation is Knowing You’re Not Struggling Alone”
Kasha Nabagesera is a five-time Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, having participated in every session since its founding  in 2013.
Kasha Nabagesera - “My Motivation is Knowing You’re Not Struggling Alone”
Klaus Mueller and Nicole Bogart 

Kasha Nabagesera is known the world over for her LGBT activism. She has been described as the face of Uganda’s LGBT movement by CNN, appeared on the cover of TIME magazine’s European edition and accepted several humanitarian awards for her fight for LGBT rights in her home country of Uganda – where homosexuality remains illegal

Nabagesera, a five-time Fellow of the Forum, credits much of this success to strong international – and deeply personal – connections she has built over the years of her activism. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has a special place and meaning for her.

As an activist, executive director of Kuchu Times Media Group, which runs Bombastic magazine, TV and radio output, and founder of the gay rights organization Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), Kasha Nabagesera has been a powerful voice in advocating for the rights of the LGBT community in Uganda globally at various international fora. As a plenary speaker at the founding session of the Forum in 2013, she talked about the need for international politicians and campaigners to coordinate with local activists to fight against the hate crimes plaguing her country.

“Uganda is loud,” said Nabagesera, “but criminalization laws are all over Africa.” Several people from the US took advantage of Uganda’s poverty and weak society, she explained, promoting fear of an invasive and dangerous “gay agenda.” US evangelicals had been promoting homophobia in Uganda prior to 2014 and were involved in the creation of the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act. The global community was helpful in preventing the proposed legislation from becoming law but, at the same time, well-intentioned politicians and campaigners – threatening to withhold aid – did not listen to local activists, generating a backlash from the Ugandan people towards LGBT people in Uganda and violence toward Ugandan representatives around the globe.

Nabagesera has strong ties with European embassies in the region, which have aided in her participation of the Forum, and she encourages other Fellows to create relationships with foreign governments to aid in their advocacy. “During the Berlin session in 2014 it was only Uganda that had a great working relationship with [the German] foreign ministry, but since then I’ve heard that some people have starting opening doors and dialogue back home. So for me I feel it’s important that we keep the dialogues open,” she said.

In 2015, Nabagesera boldly posed on the cover of TIME, as part of a photo essay showcasing 65 LGBT people from 15 different countries who had faced discrimination. Posed with her fist held high, Nabagesera told the magazine she wanted to embody the image of power.

“For me, it’s more than just me being on the cover,” she said of the article. “It’s more putting the visibility on the LGBT struggle around the world, because as much as they say its ‘Out in Africa’, it carries stories from very many people around the world. But also it gives me personal security and protection from not only home, but even from the government.”

This visibility does not mean that she is completely invincible, however. Shortly before she was due to arrive in Salzburg to participate in the 2017 session, Nabagesera was arrested in Rwanda. Within hours, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum members were using their diplomatic connections and multiple communication channels, especially Facebook and Twitter, to raise awareness of her arrest and call for her release.“I was surprised to see people in the Philippines, people in China, were writing,” Nabagesera recalls. “I must say I’m lucky.” She was thankfully released in time to travel to the Forum, and felt re-energized.

“I feel so good and alive, very fresh and more motivated. Every year I get more amazed at how the Forum has grown and getting more informative, interesting, but also more focused on the issues that many of us neglect or forget about during our everyday work. The issue of well-being and safety plus family is the core of our existence – and the petrol that fuels us to continue to do what we do. I wonder why for so many years the movements around the world have neglected these topics. We work under very dire circumstances, and if we don’t look after ourselves it will be difficult for us to sustain the global movements and struggle. So for me, to have this opportunity every year to come and re-energize, learn from so many diverse people, share experiences with different kinds of cultures is something that I truly need.”

It is that amplification effect that Nabagesera sees as being one of the key values of the network. “I believe in the power of sharing. That is the strongest weapon the Ugandan LGBT movement has,” she says. “For me, having this network of about 150 people, I know that one of them will share whatever happens. So I use that network to share information out of the continent. But I’ve also used the network, the videos and content that comes from the members of the Forum, because I have 2.8 million viewers on my TV show and website. So people are starting to see that it’s not something new that’s happening to us; it’s also happening elsewhere in the world...

“I really wish many donors, corporations and organizations would really understand the importance of this Forum. We cannot always just fight, fight, fight … without loved ones at our sides, without family. If we are not healthy there is no way we can have healthy movements. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has given us a platform to learn and also take back home and share with our communities, I will forever be grateful. And I will always be a bit selfish and say for as long as I am invited to the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum I will attend. This Forum brings out a lot of me that sometimes I didn’t know I had. Some kind of burden gets off, being in a place where for us the focus is directly about us and not just our work and politics. It’s a place where I get to interact one-on-one with government officials, diplomats, UN experts and where I don’t have to fight for space to get their attention like in the so many forums I attend where we are over 1000 people, talking about the same thing for decades.”

Kasha Nabagesera on making the world pay attention to LGBT issues


Defining Family
Defining Family
Klaus Mueller 
addresses LGBT families - those we're born into, those we create and those we raise

“We all come from families that were unprepared for us.”

—    Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum

Being part of family is a fundamental human condition as well as a human right. All of us long to feel at home with the families of our birth, in the families of our choosing and in the families we raise. This sense of belonging, connection and wellbeing is what we call feeling “at home.”

But does this notion of “family” remain utopian for LGBT people? Many LGBT individuals are rejected by their families, cultures or home countries. So-called traditional family values are often claimed to justify the exclusion of daughters and sons from their families, their communities and the legal protection granted to citizens.

Why does this exclusion find such widespread open or silent acceptance? Why do families, schools, religious communities or government authorities tolerate or even support the discrimination and violence against their LGBT children?

Exclusion is not a value, but an attack on the very fabric of our lives and core idea of family. Where exclusion cannot be prevented, it seriously impacts not only those driven from home but also the families and communities they are forced to leave behind. Much more needs to be done to ensure that “home” can indeed be a place of safety.

Through our three-year project
“Family is…” with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, we collected and disseminated video testimonies of authentic stories about our Fellows and their families. Fellows shared their personal experiences of acceptance, silence or exclusion in their families and of ways to heal and protect families in all their shapes and forms. In 2017, we released our film documentary Family is…? A Global Conversation as a free resource and humane document to strengthen loving and inclusive families.


Family is...?

In Conversation: Klaus Mueller & Ralf Kleindiek

Our Families

Hiroko Masuhara - “A very strong message to Japanese society”

Family is... A Global Conversation

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