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The Main Day: Symposium 

Our main #SaferToBeMe Symposium day was packed with talks, workshops, and campaigns! It was held at Hope Street Exchange Building on the City Campus of the University of Sunderland, in Sunderland, U.K.

View our main keynote speakers, all of the talks and workshops happening on the main day, via our YouTube channel. Click on the talk titles to watch them online.

Keynote Talks: 

Enterprise Room


Our main Symposium Keynote Speaker was the award-winning Mark Gevisser, author of The Pink Line.

One of Time’s Books of the Year (2020). Longlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize.

Other Keynote speakers were also Drew Dalton (Chair of ReportOUT) and Prof Jon Timmis (Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland).

Watch the keynote talks here.

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These were talks or workshops about the human rights situation of a particular nation state for sexual and gender minorities, or the human rights situation of a particular region for sexual and gender minorities.

Image by Norbu GYACHUNG

Enterprise Room
Sarah Ellis
University of Sunderland (U.K.)

Historical Bodies and National Identities: A Very ‘British’ Problem.


Currently in the U.K. there is an upsurge in exclusionary rhetoric and violence again the LGBTQIA+ population. This discourse seems to be focused primarily on issues of trans inclusion, and arguments of perceived legitimacy and/or risk of given bodies and ways of being within public life. In this talk Sarah traces the links between these exclusionary ideas and specific events within British history. Events, and their outcomes, that are intimately tied to particular ideas of 'Britishness' - and which have real world implications for today's global LGBTQIA+ populations. Sarah highlights some of the seeming contradictions within the UK legal system, and the linguistic knot that scholars, legislators, and human rights activists, are currently attempting to unravel as result.

Enterprise Room
Ishtar MENA Analytics

Gabriele Guzzi and Damian Berger (Switzerland and Morocco)

Human Rights and the Lived Experiences of SOGIESC Communities: A Moroccan Perspective.


Same-sex relations remain penalized under Art. 489 of the Moroccan penal code, resulting in prison sentences of up to 3 years. Although the increasing presence of SOGIESC-communities (mostly online) have put the decriminalization of homosexuality on the political agenda, an overwhelming majority of Moroccan still show little tolerance for SOGIESC relations. Accordingly, the vast majority of SOGIESC Moroccans do not openly express their sexual and gender identity. Accounts of discrimination and violence against SOCIESC people are numerous. “Out In Morocco” seeks to quantitatively research such lived experiences of SOGIESC people in Morocco with a particular focus on their links to SDGs. As such, the study can provide valuable insight into access to healthcare, finance, credit and other less visible forms of discrimination SOGIESC-communities face. This not only contributes to a much more fine-grained picture about the challenges of gender and sexual minorities in Morocco, but also directly relates to many aspects of the human rights issues Morocco vouched to address with its New Development Model in 2021.  


The study is a collaboration between ReportOut and the Moroccan partner organisations Alwan, Nassawiyat, Elille Collective, and the Moroccan LGBTQ+ Community. The publication of the OUT In Morocco report is planned for spring 2023.

Enterprise Room
Shinyanga Tuinuane Vijana (STV)
Mathias Charles (

The Human Rights Situation of Transgender and Female Sex Workers in Shinyanga, Tanzania.


Shinyanga Tuinuane Vijana came about as the result of hostility in Shinyanga, Tanzania towards transgender and Female Sex Workers with  high level of stigma and discrimination, unlawful frequent arrests, pre-trial detention and custody, physical and sexual assaults, domestic violence, torture and harassments, attacks and raids, denial and negligence, depression and suicides. Shinyanga Tuinunane  Vijana  stands  with  everyone  that  supports  bringing  changes  and improvement to the project’s beneficiaries’ welfare, wellbeing and security through advocacy, health literacy, health referral linkage, legal literacy, legal referral linkage, social-economic empowerment and safety and security mechanisms to support youth  and women individuals during the time of risks and insecurities. 


This talk will outline our project’s aims to enable people to access legal services by playing the role of legal referral linkage.  The vulnerable people we work with are supported when they need support in legal and justice processes.  In raising awareness of the current situation in Tanzania and the vulnerability of the groups we work with, we aim to assist people while working towards social change.   

Enterprise Room
Charlotte, Chloe, Kristyna and Maria
ReportOUT (U.K. and Belize)

OUT in Belize: The Lived Experiences of Sexual and Gender Minorities in Belize.


OUT in Belize is a research project that has sought to document the lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities in Belize. In partnership with organisations in Belize, the ReportOUT team of human rights researchers conducted a literature review exploring various aspects of life in Belize for sexual and gender minorities, including an overview of its history and the landscape for LGBTQI+ activism in the country. The organisations then developed a survey that would be disseminated across Belize where sexual and gender minorities can answer questions on their rights protection, experiences and life in Belize. The results of this survey, alongside the literature review, have been presented in a report exploring the findings and making recommendations for improvement, making reference to the Sustainable Development Goals. This talk will present our findings.

Enterprise Room
Matthew Waites
University of Glasgow (U.K.)

Colonialisms and Queer Politics: The Different Legacies of Empires.


This talk will discuss differences between European empires in their approaches to sexualities and genders outside heterosexual norms, and hence analyse how different colonial legacies relate to contemporary queer politics. The talk will draw from work on the forthcoming co-edited book Colonialisms and Queer Politics: Sexualities, Genders and Unsettling Colonialities (Oxford University Press). The presentation will discuss key differences between the British Empire, often known for its legal legacy of criminalisation regarding same-sex sexual acts, and others such as the French, Portuguese or Belgian empires. It will be argued that an understanding of different colonialisms helps to explain some contemporary patterns of regulation and change in states, for example of decriminalisation in African states, and thus is valuable for contemporary activism.  


These talks and workshops were thematic talks or workshops about a particular issue or theme linked to the human rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Pride Hug

Pinnacle Room
Shahanur Islam
JusticeMakers Bangladesh (Bangladesh) 

A Critical Analysis of Violence Against LGBT People in Bangladesh: A Study Monitoring Online News Media Reports in 2022.

Violence against LGBT people are a common and widespread phenomenon in Bangladesh. Murder, physical assault, threats, death threats, rape, sexual abuse, extortion, bulling, social stigma, discrimination, deprivation, physical and psychological abuse are common forms of violation.  Ironically, most of the incidents are unreported due to family, society and state stigma and intolerance in addition to existing discriminatory laws which declare same sex activities as punishable offences with sentences up to maximum life imprisonment.    


This talk is based on original research monitoring both Bengali and English online news media reports in 2022 relating to the incidences of violence, discrimination, and deprivation against sexual minorities in Bangladesh. The research findings outline the number, pattern and places of violence, types of perpetrator, as well as legal remedies, challenges and suggestions for the way forward.   

Pinnacle Room
Paul Godswill Chukwuemeka

Conversion Practices: The Mental Health Effects on LGBTQI+ Persons in Nigeria.

Throughout history, members of the LGBTQI+ community have been subjected to efforts to convert or change their identities, either forcefully or by personal choice. Despite recent progress in expanding LGBTQI+ recognition, protections, and equality, conversion therapy remains a mar on headway that’s been made and hinders future advancement.   


In Africa as of 2022, over 1,200,000 LGBTQI+ persons have experienced this kind of practice and most have had this forcefully imposed on them. This talk discusses conversion therapy practice in Nigeria. It raises questions about the ‘practitioners’ who employ these approaches and asks how this stain on progress towards LGBTQI+ equality undermines progress in a complex social environment. It also discusses how the term ‘conversion therapy’ is itself a misnomer as conversion practices can be seen as forms of harm and violence leading to PTSD in survivors.   

Pinnacle Room
Drew Dalton
University of Sunderland and ReportOUT (U.K.

Have we Left Behind the Rainbow Warriors? The Climate Emergency and its Impact on Global Sexual and Gender Minorities.


Little has been researched about how the climate emergency is impacting the lives of sexual and gender minorities (see LGBTQI+). What we do know from scattered evidence, is that LGBTQI+ people face discrimination or exclusion from disaster shelters in times of Extreme Weather Events (EWE’s) (FOE, 2020) and are more likely to be at risk of being homeless as the climate alters (Albert Kennedy Trust, 2021). In places such as Uganda, LGBQI+ people are more likely to live in deep levels of poverty, meaning they will lack the capacity to move as the globe warms (Dalton, Weatherston and Butler, 2020). In Jamaica, homeless young LGBTQI+ people have been documented living in underground drains, which risks flooding and death during freak storms (ReportOUT, 2021). Yet despite this, the climate emergency and its impacts on sexual and gender minorities, is still an overlooked and under-researched area.


 To tackle the growing climate emergency, the United Nations have set out ambitious targets in their Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Goal 13 being ‘Climate Action.’ This promises specific targets, to “integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning” (Target 13.2). This is problematic, as there are still 67 countries where same sex intimacy is criminalised (ReportOUT, 2023) and in some nation states, sexual and gender minorities are either invisible and isolated from power regimes, or actively persecuted by the state.


This talk will examine how the climate emergency is affecting sexual and gender minorities in different nation states across the globe, and how it is intimately tied to their human rights. It will also highlight the ‘duel burden’ faced by LGBTQI+ people whereby they face heteronormative power structures, state homophobia, and isolation from climate emergency initiatives and planning. It will then conclude with key recommendations of how to include sexual and gender minorities in climate emergency planning, to truly fulfil the Agenda 2030 mission statement to ‘leave no-one behind.’

Pinnacle Room
Mumbya Katende
BRU (Uganda)

The Lived Realities of Sexual and Gender Minorities in the Rural Areas of Rwenzori Region, Uganda.


In the Rwenzori region Transgender people continue to face marginalisation and discrimination in the form of Transphobia. Rural Transgender persons continue to face enormous social challenges and disparities such as limited access to education; homelessness and evictions; at a high risk of violence against the person; poor health care coverage due to inadequate trans friendly public health services; bullying; vulnerability to mental health conditions and no access to gender recognition.   


This talk will discuss the work carried out by ‘Twilight’ to challenge social exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination, and to strengthen the rural transgender movement to lobby and advocate for their inclusion.   

Pinnacle Room
Ramilia Almazbekova
Kyrgyz Indigo (Kyrgyzstan)

Queer Voices of Central Asia. 


Central Asia consists of a group of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries with post-colonial experience. Also, traditional values and religious rules prevail in the region based on Islamization, which leads to the closure of communities in the regions and rural areas. LGBT+ people, especially LBQT girls and women, and trans* men are experiencing intersecting forms of discrimination, stigma, conversion therapy, and harassment, including sexual harassment and violence. 

Every year, governments are strengthening in countries that suppress freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. But despite this, the LGBT+ movement is strong and strives to create a space for queer people to provide services and protect their rights. This talk will outline to the symposium how much the queer movement of Central Asia is diverse and strives to strengthen its voice, and that we are not only victims, but also heroes and leaders. 


These were talks and workshops about sexual and gender minorities, and their engagement (or lack thereof) with international development mechanisms and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Or, about sexual and gender minorities and their development issues.

Image by Prado

Innovation Room
Simon Fox
Academic (U.K.) 

The Invisible People: The Healthy Ageing of Older LGBTQ+ Populations in the UK.

Based on a primary study, "The Invisible People: The healthy ageing of older LGBTQ+ populations in the UK" explores the generational impact of population-level social determinants on the ability of LGBTQ+ populations in the UK to engage with healthy ageing practices, as outlined by the World Health Organization. The talk considers the role of formative societal influences on the perception of ageing and LGBTQ+ in relation to the self, and its impact on health over the life course, culminating in the ageing process, incorporating the roles of resilience, independence, visibility, ageism, and expectations for the future. 

Innovation Room
Graham Robertson
Researcher (Canada) 

Revitalising Global LGBTQ2IA+ Rights: Integrating SOGI in Canada’s Foreign Policy and International Assistance.


This talk outlines opportunities and strategies to strengthen sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) considerations in governments’ foreign policy, diplomacy and international assistance. With an overview of historical and recent efforts by the Canadian government to advance global LGBTQ2IA+ rights in multilateral fora, e.g., the United Nations and the Equal Rights Coalition, this talk will highlight local LGBTQ2IA+ initiatives at Canadian embassies and missions abroad, based on qualitative interviews with LGBTQ2IA+ activists in Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Ecuador.  


These past initiatives will be analyzed against present-day commitments to global LGBTQ2IA+ rights, in light of the Canadian government’s federal action plan on LGBTQ2IA+ rights, released in 2022. The session will also provide a comparative analysis using mixed methods, of global LGBTQ2IA+ rights in the foreign policies and diplomacy of the United States' and United Kingdom's governments. The research aims to provide policy recommendations for governments to advance global LGBTQ2IA+ rights in their own foreign policy, diplomacy and international assistance.

Innovation Room
Philip R. Crehan
Eolas Consulting

Inclusive Development in Practice: Creating an Economic Development Framework for LGBTQ+ People.


Across the world, the sector of economic development remains a highly influential and powerful one, disseminating billions of dollars (USD) to governments, corporations, civil society, and research institutes. To date, only a minuscule amount of those funds are dedicated to LGBTQ+ people, and due to the ongoing exclusion the community faces in their countries and also when trying to access development programming, this sector remains unable to meaningfully include LGBTQ+ people. Thus, the promise of "inclusive development" and Leaving No One Behind remains elusive. This is especially the case for the multilateral development banks (MDBs), who although utilize the narrative of "inclusive development" and make policy statements against homophobia & transphobia, are still unable or unwilling to create programs for LGBTQ+ people in the countries they work.  


This workshop will therefore focus on how civil society and stakeholders can create a (first-ever) economic development framework that can "bring to life" the promise of inclusive development. Such a framework can leverage the economic development sector by (1) framing homophobia and transphobia as economic development challenges, (2) activate civil society to understand the MDBs and empower them to work together, (3) offer institutional entry points for said engagement, and (4) create the standards and metrics necessary to advance LGBTQ+ well-being and progress. In order to bring context to this agenda, emerging work in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia will be discussed.

Innovation Room
Dr Felicity Daly (Ireland) and Philip R. Crehan (USA) 
Institute for Commonwealth Studies and Eolas Consulting 

Incentivising Data to Evidence LGBTQI+ Inclusion in the SDGs: Utilising the LGBTI Inclusion Index.


This talk will explore the potential of the LGBTI Inclusion Index, an initiative led by the United Nations Development Programme to overcome the paucity of data on the socio-economic status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people and other sexual and gender diverse (LGBT+) populations worldwide. Through the participation of LGBTI civil society and other stakeholders, the Index and its Indicators were designed to measure human rights and development dimensions across economic well-being; education; health; personal security and violence; and political and civic participation.  


The talk will review the development of the Index and shares findings from a limited number of interviews with stakeholders who were involved in conceptualization and/or dissemination of the concept. It discusses limits to intended participation by UN member states and some challenges in state collection and reporting of data disaggregated by sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). Utilization of conceptual features of the Index in multilateral reporting and research is also reviewed. The Index offers SOGIESC indicators which may be useful to human rights and development practitioners seeking to generate new data or use secondary data to measure whether development interventions are accessible to LGBTI people. Two case studies outline the adaptation of selected Indicators from the Index in surveys of LGBT+ people planned and/or undertaken by researchers in collaboration with civil society organizations in Africa and the Caribbean. I and my co-authors encourage utilization of the Index and its Indicators to gain greater insight on interventions that deliver socio-economic development and human rights implementation for LGBTI people. 

Innovation Room
Kelvin Wangari
PEMA (Kenya) 

Beyond the Signatures: Embrace Gender Equality on Legal Recognition in Kenya.

Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering Intersex, Transgender & Gender non-Conforming (ITGNCs) people, who have always been left out of the conversation, spurs social inclusivity, productivity and economic growth. 

Currently, ITGNC people are struggling to attain basic human rights as well as recognition by states who are in fact signatories to the gender equality SDG goal.  With human rights abuse happening across the globe, it is of paramount importance to call for an end to the multiple forms of gender violence; improved and equal access to education and health; equal opportunity for employment; access to leadership and decision-making positions; economic resources and democratic political participation. 

This talk will outline the situation and problems experienced by ITGNC people in Kenya and discuss recommendations for change, such as: making accessible, quick and transparent procedures for the provision of official documentation; to abolish mandatory medical examinations; and to maintain confidentiality for legal name and gender changes.   

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