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University of Sunderland to host International LGBTQIA+ conference

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Published on 21 February 2023

New conference planned
New conference planned

The first International LGBTQIA+ Community Conference will be held this summer in the City of Sunderland addressing the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Human rights charity ReportOUT in partnership with the University of Sunderland have announced the ‘Safer To Be Me Symposium’, which will take place on June 22, this year, on the University’s City Campus.

The symposium will create a safe space where some of the most important issues facing international LGBTQIA+ human rights can be explored and discussed in detail, as well as encouraging a call to action where all involved can identify meaningful ways to be proactive and make a powerful impact.


More details will be announced next month (March) on tickets, guest speakers and a host of activities and events attached to the day. More than 100 delegates are expected to attend, and the whole event will be streamed live around the globe, with interactive input from 500 activists based in countries where their everyday existence is threatened.

The keynote speaker is Mark Gevisser who is one of South Africa’s foremost writers, his books include: Lost and Found in Johannesburg: A Memoir (2014) and The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers (2020). His journalism has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The New York Times, Granta, and the New York Review of Books.

Also attending will be representatives from the country’s leading LGBTQIA+ charities, including Stonewall, as well as academics, activists, and civil society leaders.

Commenting on the Symposium, announced during LGBT+ History Month, Drew Dalton, Chair of north-east based ReportOUT and Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sunderland, said: “This partnership between ReportOUT volunteers, staff at the University and students, has been incredibly important to pull together.

“This Symposium is sorely needed at a time when the global rights of sexual and gender minorities are on a precipice.

“Whilst we see countries dropping like dominoes in terms of decriminalising same sex activity and the voices of our community being louder than ever, we are also seeing a well-organised global fightback with punitive laws being enacted such as Uganda, growing transphobia in Europe, and camps for LGBTQI+ people in Chechnya.”

Dalton, who also recently secured a publisher for a book he is writing on global LGBTQI human rights, added: “This conference will fill a void left behind after the cancellation of the UK Government’s proposed ‘Safe to Be Me’ conference last year, which we have called #SaferToBeME. LGBT+ charities and other groups pulled out over the Government's stance on conversion therapy.

“For our Symposium, we will bring together academics, activists, civil society leaders and organisations to develop a Research and Knowledge Exchange group which will live long after the Symposium itself, to work together to find solutions to the human rights abuses and development needs of sexual and gender minorities. It is time for #SaferToBeMe to ring out loud. We hope you will save the date.”

The day-long conference will also include a screening of the film ‘Flee’, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Festival, and tells the extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time.

For more information about the conference and ticket announcements, you can subscribe to the official ReportOUT website and follow #SAFERTOBEME