9: Human Rights

9: Human Rights

Human Rights were at the core of Copenhagen 2021 and intrinsically linked with Pride, sports and arts and culture. With our Human Rights Forum consisting of six main events, we aimed for global impact and change on behalf of sexual and gender identity minorities worldwide. The diversity and aim of our events create opportunities to target different groups within and outside our community and bring them together to create awareness, understanding and give everybody the possibility to broaden their horizons, but also take action.

In connection to the Human Rights pillar, the following activities and events took place:


Mission Statement

WorldPride in Copenhagen will feature an ambitious human rights programme, building on the legacy of WorldPride in Madrid and Stonewall 50 in New York City to push our agenda of equality and diversity forward.
With high-profile speakers, workshops, presentations, panel discussions and open debates, the Human Rights Forum was envisioned to shed a light on the struggles faced by LGBTI+ people and serve to educate decision-makers and the public to increase understanding and unite our community and allies in a global call to action.

Human Rights Conference

The Human Rights Conference (HRC) was intended to cover the many aspects and nuances of LGBTI+ life. The conference would pick up the baton from the preceding WorldPrides in Madrid and New York to assess the progress being made around the world and discuss how to move forward as a global community. As we partnered with various international and Danish LGBTI+ organizations, issues to be covered in this conference would include LGBTI+ workplace and housing discrimination, research into the health and well-being of LGBTI+ people, persecution, and criminalization of LGBTI+ people in the global south, and LGBTI+ rights advocacy at the UN, among other things.

Furthermore, the conference would also include sessions where participants could learn how to use tools such as norm criticism to highlight and question norms and privileges, and how to apply an intersectional analysis to gain an understanding of how configurations and intensity of oppression may vary.

The conference would include plenary sessions and speeches to cover issues of general importance, but smaller workshop and training sessions would also be included to cater to the different needs and wishes that people from various parts of the world and our community may have.

Parts of the Conference would also be open to the public and we hoped that some of the more educational and informative sessions might be repeated in the 1:1 Democracy Festival for the public to take part in. Copenhagen Pride has had an extensive human rights program for years, and we imagined a similar concept to be developed for panel discussions and debates to be held outside of the conference sessions to invite Copenhageners and visitors alike to participate.

The Conference would feature various educational tracks catering to participants’ different interests and professions. Topics for educational tracks would include rainbow families, trans rights, and queer activism. All parts of the Conference would feature sign language interpretation for the hearing-impaired.

Sports Leader Conference

As we planned to host EuroGames and WorldPride at the same time, we were determined to host a Sports Leader Conference (SLC), focusing on empowering the LGBTI+ clubs around the world and the inclusion of LGBTI+ people in sports.

Collaborating with important stakeholders like the organization Athlete Ally, European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF) and the Danish Gymnastics and Sports Association (DGI), we wanted to give athletes and coaches of all ages and all sports, recreational and competitive, the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively combat discrimination in their teams and in professional leagues.

The aim was to strengthen LGBTI+ sports clubs of the world, and open sports to LGBTI+ athletes and foster a more inclusive athletic community for all.

Outreach Program

Since we were striving to make WorldPride in Copenhagen nothing less than truly inclusive and truly global, it comes natural for us to look at ways to bring people from marginalized communities to Copenhagen for the event.

We planned to establish an outreach program of approx. €1 million to accommodate the participation of pride organisers, LGBTI+ activists and athletes from around the world who would not be able to afford this by themselves. Funds would be provided according to ILGA standards. We will partner with philanthropic foundations to raise these funds as well as experiment with grassroots fundraising and crowdfunding methods. Participants were also encouraged to donate a solidarity fee when registering for WorldPride 2021.

Embassy Engagement Program

In the latter stages of 2020, the pandemic did not seem to ease significantly enough to allow a big physical turnout in Denmark and Sweden. Therefore, the Copenhagen 2021 Human Rights team started working on ideas to collaborate more closely with Danish and Swedish Missions abroad after receiving the formal approval of the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

Through the Copenhagen 2021 Embassy Engagement Program (EEP), we strongly believed that an event with a global focus, like Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride and EuroGames, could become more visible and accessible. Especially through meaningful collaborations with our Diplomatic Missions to amplify the message of Copenhagen 2021 and promote and showcase the ‘Nordic values’. Through this program, events would not only happen in Copenhagen and Malmö, but also around the world in places where Denmark and Sweden have a diplomatic mission.

Our main aim was to generate opportunities for national, regional, and local LGBTI+ organisations, activists, government officials and legislators to be part of Copenhagen 2021 through regional events taking place at the same time as the main events in Copenhagen and Malmö. However, also in the period leading up to the event, even if they were prevented from physically participating in Denmark and Sweden thereby making Copenhagen 2021 more accessible and relevant to a wider audience and consequently create broader inclusion – living up to our mission of #YouAreIncluded.

This collaboration with the diplomatic missions envisioned them setting up different LGBTI+ themed events in close collaboration with national, regional, and local LGBTI+ organisations. They focused on, for example, region specific issues, using their diplomatic budgets for the promotion of human rights, development and culture and general representation.

Overall Aims

Copenhagen 2021 aimed to welcome a large and diverse group of people from every part of the LGBTI+ acronym, to take part in the Human Rights Forum (HRF), discussing inclusion and discrimination.

The vision of the project was to create extra awareness and inspire change, so having focus points was essential. Core aims birthed from the overlying vision were:

  • a universal decriminalisation of same-sex relationships by 2030
  • a worldwide ban on conversion therapy, and
  • a protection against bodily and psychological harm.

These main goals we wanted to see addressed in 2021 and beyond by governments, politicians, activists, media, and all other attendees.
Furthermore, the killings of, and violence against the LGBTI+ community needed to be highlighted.

For Copenhagen 2021, it was of importance to pay extra attention to minorities and intersectionality within our community. We identified a number of intersectional communities that were given extra space and attention during Copenhagen 2021. These intersectional community spaces were work and focus groups, comprising members from these communities. These intersectional communities that had extra focus on them during Copenhagen 2021 were:

  • Refugees
  • People of colour
  • Indigenous people
  • Young people
  • Older people
  • People with disabilities

At a European level we will focus on backlashes in Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, amongst other European Union countries. Furthermore, as the enlargement of the European Union is imminent, we needed to stay critical and push for more accountability and change in candidate and accession states. Through collaborations with the Council of Europe and the European Union together with European civil society organisations and activists, we would have to map and highlight challenges and situations on our diverse continent.

Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride & EuroGames aimed to be the most inclusive and accessible LGBTI+ event in the world. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the Human Rights Team were motivated to rethink ways to include as many voices as possible in a meaningful way and created spaces for community members in different ways thinking broader than digitalisation of the Human Rights Program alone.

Due to the pandemic and its global influence, the early vision of the Copenhagen 2021 project was in some ways a different one than what was delivered. Moreover, scholarship recipients, invited activists and other individuals had various obstacles to overcome in order to be physically present at the events. In that way, long-distance solutions and restrictions were incorporated into the project plans at a relatively early stage.

1:1 Democracy Festival

With the pandemic still hanging over our heads, the 1:1 Democracy Festival had to change its setup before delivery. Developing from a blend of the Scandinavian “Folkemøde” and the twice-yearly human rights programme of Copenhagen Pride, it very heavily relied on physical presence to create the atmosphere and space it intended. The Festival aimed at preserving as much of the benefits with the atmosphere and space it intended to create, whilst keeping within the pandemic restrictions.

Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly

Working with the Danish parliamentary authorities we guaranteed various digital solutions to make sure that elected officials who could not travel could participate actively including the opportunity to ask questions using a special chat function. Different parts of the IPA were also be made available to the broader public through livestreams on different platforms.

Activity Targets

The pandemic restrictions led us to revise some of the activity targets for the Human Rights Forum:

  • Delivery of HRC went from expecting 1200 daily participants to expecting 500 and the expectancy of 3000 daily online participants were clearly outlined
  • Delivery of the 1:1 Democracy Festival now included a clearly outlined live-streamed elements for thousands of online participants, besides the expected 10,000 physical participants
  • Execution of a comprehensive Embassy programme – where we get the message out about Copenhagen 2021 to 65 countries that were unlikely to be able to travel to Copenhagen, including 40 events taking place during the delivery of Copenhagen 2021 – became part of the activity targets

Digital Solutions

Copenhagen 2021 expected to welcome up to one million people to Copenhagen and Malmö for WorldPride and EuroGames. Taking into account the very difficult and insecure situation related to the pandemic, flexibility in our planning and an expansion of our digital delivery to enable the participation of as many people as possible, regardless of their physical location, was necessitated.

The biggest negative effect was the restrictions on entry into Denmark, as most speakers and all scholarship recipients come from abroad.

Our digital plans made it possible for many more people to participate in Copenhagen 2021 events, which helped us reach out to people who could not travel to Denmark and Sweden. We ran digital events on a variety of platforms including YouTube, Zoom, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

General Revisions

Other general revisions of the Human Rights Program include:

  • The program went from being a 7-day event to a 5-day event.
  • The Workplace Inclusion Day, the Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly, the Refugees, Borders and Immigration Summit and 1:1 Democracy Festival became part of the project.
  • More technology-based, digital and long-stance inclusive solutions became an even bigger part of the considerations and equation for the Human Rights Forum
  • In the final weeks before delivery, we shifted from inviting those who could most benefit from attendance (such as those living in hostile regions), to inviting those who would most likely be able to attend. The last-minute opening of borders of Denmark on 12 August, however, allayed the impact of this revision.

Events and delivery

The Copenhagen 2021 Human Rights Forum was to be a LGBTI+ international experience consisting of of multiple high-level, accessible events. Below are the descriptions of all the events as they were planned close to the delivery date.

Human Rights Forum Opening

Date & time: Monday 16 August 2021, afternoon event
Venue: UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: approx. 350-400

The Official Opening of the HRF took place in UN City on Monday 16 August. The opening event was organised in collaboration with UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency and coordinated with other UN entities.

The event included speeches from dignitaries and discussions of dilemmas faced by the LGBTI+ community in obtaining basic human rights; real-life challenges to the aim to ‘leave no one behind’ of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Activists, experts, the UN and civil society were represented in the debates.

The objectives for the HRF Opening were:

  • To give an overview of what has been done so far across the different SDGs with an LGBTI+ focus.
  • Present ongoing SDG work and achievements.
  • Identify current LGBTI+ situations and challenges to reach the SDGs, including the disproportionate impact of COVID19 on LGBTI+ groups, and present solutions.
  • Highlight the importance of youth voices in SDG discussions.
  • Suggest a way forward for global implementation of the SDGs that secures the inclusion of LGBTI+ people.

The keynote address was given by HRH The Crown Princess of Denmark in her capacity as Patron of both Copenhagen 2021 and the UNFPA. The host was Karen Ellemann, deputy speaker of the Danish Parliament, and speakers included Dr Natalia Kanem, Director of the UNFPA.


Generally, the event was met with very positive feedback from both UN, participants, and other partners. It was a pioneering event within the area of LGBTI+ inclusion, opening the United Nations City to discussions on inclusion of the LGBTI+ community.

Critical feedback: Infrastructure was (expectedly) quite complex due to pandemic regulations with maximum capacity strictly observed which is some cases led to discussion and/or questions with/of scholarship participants.

UN Fair with Integrated Scholarship Program

Date: August 16
Time: 09:00-11:30 – 12:00 – 13:30
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English
Participants: Approx. 300 at the United Nations (with a focus on Scholarship recipients)

The fair had been organised to create an opportunity to showcase the work and research done by the UN agencies in LGBTI+ inclusion and engage with an external audience on this topic.

That happened via the following distinct formats:

  • Information videos about the participating agencies.
  • Designated stands for documented materials such as summary reports of the participating UN agencies and an opportunity to talk with interested participants.
  • In-person/virtual presentations followed by a Q&A.
  • Inter-Agency Panel Discussions.

HRF Opening Plenary

In 2015, the United Nations launched a set of global goals to end poverty and inequality by 2030. “The Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs), were ratified by 193 governments on the basis that they apply to everyone, everywhere and that they will ‘leave no one behind’. Equality groups strongly pushed for the rights and needs of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex individuals to be considered.

Six years later, on Monday 16 August from 15:00-17:45, we met, in the framework of Copenhagen 2021 at UN City Copenhagen, to evaluate the progress, discuss challenges and opportunities, and to suggest a way forward that secures the inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the frame of the global SDGs.

It was a public event at the iconic star-shaped UN City at the harbor front, and available live for the world to tune in.

Date: August 16
Time: 15:00-17:30
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Participants: Approx. 500 (in two rooms) at the United Nations (Including Ambassadors, politicians, UN Staff, and sponsors)

Sports Leader Conference

Date & time: Monday 16 – Tuesday 17 August 2021
Venue: DGI Byen & Øksnehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: 200 participants

During Copenhagen 2021, we wanted to facilitate conversations that help improve conditions for LGBTI+ people in sports. The Sports Leaders’ Conference (SLC) will be a space to share experiences, develop policies of sports clubs and encourage political action.

The conference aims to strengthen the capacities of LGBTI+ sports clubs and communities that provide important social spaces for LGBTI+ people, and at the same time impact political processes in the field. The SLC should be a step forward to ensuring that LGBTI+ athletes have the opportunity to participate in sports on the same terms as other athletes

Over the course of two days, participants worked with capacity-building and sustainability, as well as inclusion of LGBTI+ athletes in sports.
Based on partnerships with a range of LGBTI+ sports organisations, the conference will consist of workshops, panels, presentations, and round table, and aims to ensure that all participants gain new knowledge and increase their network within LGBTI+ sports.

The objectives for the SLC were:

  • Building organisational capacities in LGBTI+ sports clubs across Europe.
  • Ensuring broader inclusion of LGBTI+ athletes in mainstream sports.

Human Rights Conference

Date & time: Tuesday 17 August – Thursday 19 August 2021
Venue: Øksnehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: 1200 – 2000 participants

The three-day Human Rights Conference (HRC) focused on the global LGBTI+ situation and was organised for, by, and with the diverse global LGBTI+ community. This conference explored and discussed the challenges and lives of the diverse community.

The conference started with a plenary day, inviting 2000 participants to witness speeches, panels and discussions followed by two full days of break-out sessions for 1200 participants that will have discussions based on the 10 topics. The conference ended with a closing and feedback ceremony.

The HRC was intended to be the most significant LGBTI+ conference in 2021. The conference was open for human rights defenders and activists, elected officials, academics, NGOs, media, Pride organisers,diversity and inclusion professionals, and sports leaders in the field of LGBTI+ rights, and anybody else interested in the more in-depth LGBTI+ cause.

Our goal was to include all representations under the LGBTI+ acronym in the program and to be highly aware of intersectionality in our planning. This included representation in relation to geography, racialisation, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, and appearance. The HRC was organised in close cooperation with our 19 executive partners.

There will also be a senior level representation from the Nordic region, and we are aiming for a broad international presence on both activist as well as government level. The Plenary Day will welcome up to 200 sports leaders, taking part in the SLC.

For the two break-out days, we expected around 100 hours of sessions, existing out of workshops, debates, panels, talks, round tables and discussions proposed through an open call for sessions assessed by a professional selection committee. We also investigated the possibility to set up live-streaming for certain sessions, depending on safety considerations.

We strived to set up well-balanced panels with clear objectives and a diverse representation. We also worked with moderators. It was of importance to Copenhagen 2021 to engage the attendees through, for example, live-polling and storytelling and questions through social media. During the afternoon breaks, break-out session rooms would be used as caucus rooms, where intersectional groups in our community could collaborate. The afternoon breaks also give an opportunity for the participants to visit the 1:1 Democracy Festival where a special cultural program will be curated.

The objectives for the HRC were:

  • Creating a space to have in-depth discussions about different topics amongst people with a special interest in LGBTI+ inclusion.
  • Facilitating high-level discussions focused on globally relevant topics
  • Enabling executive partners to showcase and discuss their work and disseminate knowledge to participants.
  • Arrange spaces for intersectional minorities within our community to convene and discuss their status, needs and opportunities.


Very positive feedback on the location and the set-up of the space. Lots of enthusiasm about the headsets and the availability of food and drinks.
Good (but also critical) feedback on the diversity of the program and lots of engagement from different speakers from different parts of the world.

Critical feedback

  • The days were rather long, which led to people walking in and out
  • In the beginning, digital break-out sessions had multiple issues with connections which led to sessions not starting correctly or not at all, which led in turn to a multitude of complaints from organisers
  • The team had not been clear in their communications to participants about different elements of each day, resulting in confusion
  • People would have liked to see a more integrated program with 1:1 Democracy Festival
  • Some difficulties with the Wordly software to translate sessions

Below, an overview of the delivery details of the three HRC days including the Workplace Inclusion Day which has its own section

Opening day
Date: August 17
Time: 09:30-17:30
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English
Participants: Varying roughly from 300-600

Closing Day
Date: August 19
Time: 09:00-17:00
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English
Participants: Approx. 300-400

LGBTI+ Workplace Inclusion Day: “Leveraging the workplace for greater impact”
Date & time: Wednesday 18 August 2021
Venue: Øksnehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: 100 – 150 participants

On Wednesday 18 August, a special day on LGBTI+ Inclusion in the workplace will be integrated in the HRC Program and will be accessible to preregistered participants.

The LGBTI+ Workplace Inclusion Day (WID), taking place during the HRC (within the HRF) focused on how to create workplaces where everyone can be themselves. It will cover all sides of the story from creating supporting structures within organisations to corporate advocacy that can impact LGBTI+ non-friendly legislation.

Looking at this topic through a truly international lens, this day explored how civil society organisations can learn how to better work with the private, governmental, and diplomatic sectors. Likewise, these actors will better understand the challenges, priorities, and aspirations of LGBTI+ civil society organisations.

As executive partner to the Human Rights Forum and co-organiser of the LGBTI+ Workplace Inclusion Day, Amsterdam-based NGO Workplace Pride worked with many European and international representatives to paint a complete picture of the global LGBTI+ workplace landscape. Through case studies, interactive discussions and practical solutions, participants to the day will be better equipped to make progress on LGBTI+ inclusion for all stakeholders.

The day included an opening plenary, three break-out session rounds focused on LGBTI+ workplace inclusion, and a closing plenary.


Date: August 18
Time: 09:00-17:00
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English
Participants: Approx. 200-300

Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly

Date & time: Friday 20 August 2021
Venue: Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: 220 elected officials

One day after the Copenhagen 2021 Human Rights Conference, up to 220 elected officials from all over the world were invited by the Speaker of the Danish Parliament and the Parliamentary Presidium to gather for an LGBTI+ Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly (IPA) at Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish Parliament. We invited a diverse group of elected officials from different parties, regions, backgrounds and beliefs, to make this event an impactful networking and learning experience.

It is the goal of Copenhagen 2021 to establish a legacy by organising a political plenary assembly in coordination with the host of Sydney WorldPride 2023 after the example of WorldPride 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

We worked together closely with our executive partners, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and the Victory Institute. This event was coordinated with the support of different other organisations and structures working with LGBTI+ parliamentarians and allies.

Together, we aimed to put together an ambitious program including elected officials and speakers coming from all over the world, including challenging regions. In practice that meant aiming for a participation from the Global South and Central and Eastern Europe of at least 30%, discussing topics relevant to all.

It was important for Copenhagen 2021 to involve a broad coalition of Danish parliamentarians from different political ideologies in the preparations of the IPA. Some of these have a personal connection with the community, others have worked for the advancement of LGBTI+ rights.

The objectives for the IPA were:

  • Facilitating an opportunity for elected officials to share best practices and learn about methods to advance the right of the LGBTI+ community nationally and internationally.
  • Giving an opportunity to elected officials to connect and build a larger network.
  • Strengthening the efforts of organisations to build strong parliamentarian networks.


Generally, positive feedback from Executive Partners, participant legislators and the Parliament were given about the Assembly. We believe it was a groundbreaking event within the area of LGBTI+ inclusion, held at the Danish parliament.

The invitation to ambassadors was very much appreciated and gave the event an extra layer of importance. Diplomatic guests included the Polish Head of Mission, which was very meaningful.

The pre-IPA program on Thursday gave extra opportunities for legislators and activists to meet each other for discussions.

Critical feedback: The day was very long with many speakers. In future cases, the event could be shortened or spread out over two days with even more opportunities for meaningful discussions instead of rather long speeches. It is important, in the future, to set up more possibilities for direct engagements and round tables.

There is furthermore an importance of sustainability and follow-up events, which will be led by the executive partners to the IPA in future events. Including director discussions with the Equal Rights Coalition, ILGA World and Sydney WorldPride 2023.

The pre-IPA Program should have been designated an official part of the program, as several parliamentarians did not participate (for different reasons).

The costs of the day are not to be underestimated, as the parliament spent generously on the execution of the event including the costs of digitalization, staff, full day catering and interpretations in four languages over the course of the entire day.

Date: August 20
Time: 09:00-17:30
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English, French, Spanish and Danish
Participants: Approx. 140 physically (of which 110 legislators from approx. 40 different countries). Digitally another 20 joined adding 10 more countries.

We worked together very closely with our Executive Partners, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Parliamentarians for Global Action, the LGBTQ Victory Institute, and the Global Equality Caucus. In this collaboration, we put together an ambitious program including elected officials coming from all over the world, with a strong focus on challenging regions.

Invitations were extended by the Speaker of the Folketing, the Hon. Henrik Dam Kristensen, co-signed by seven parliamentarians from different political parties within the Danish Parliament coming from Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. The event was officially supported by six Danish MEPs representing six out of seven different party groups.
The Master of Ceremonies of this event was the first openly lesbian Austrian politician, former Vice-President of the European Parliament, and LGBTI+ activist Ulrike Lunacek.

Invitations were extended to a diverse group of elected officials from different parties, regions, backgrounds, and political ideology, to make this event an impactful networking and learning experience. The invited legislators were not required to be LGBTI+ community members, although we did invite a broad coalition of LGBTI+ elected officials.

Over 110 elected officials participated physically and another 20 digitally. These legislators were coming from more than 50 different countries across six continents and represented national and federal constituencies, supranational constituencies and in some cases also local or regional constituencies. Furthermore, fulfilling our diversity aim, almost 30% of the participants came from the Global South and Central and Eastern Europe, in many cases strongly representing vulnerable communities in their home constituencies. Also of importance to us was a strong female identified representation, with over 60 participating legislators identifying as female.

As the IPA was a full day program, many parliamentarians arrived one or a few days earlier. For that reason, there was an official pre-program that took place on Thursday 19 August, with opportunities to meet with other parliamentarians in party group caucuses, meet with activists and be part of the official Copenhagen City Reception and an evening event organized by different European Parliamentarians.

Refugees, Borders and Immigration Summit

Date & time: Friday 20 August, 2021
Venue: Malmö Live, Malmö, Sweden
Participants: 250 – 500 participants

The theme of the Summit fell within the topic Borders, Decolonialisation and Racism, one of the 10 topics of the HRF, described and depicted in the initial part of this reporting section.

Four hundred activists, politicians and other interested people discussed the challenges and situation of LGBTI+ Immigration, Borders and Refugees in the region, on the continent, and in the world. This event was the closing event of the HRF.

Although the Summit took place in Malmö, the focus of the event itself is international and will target transnational situations. In close cooperation with executive partners Rainbow Railroad, UNHCR, the Council of Europe, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch with the strong support of regional organisations working with the LGBTI+ refugee community, we aimed for an inclusive event, covering contemporary situations and discussions. We aimed for a diverse range of speakers and participants existing out of individuals with lived experiences (mainly refugees), activists, elected officials from different parts of the world, government ministers from the Nordic region and officials from international organisations. The Summit was opened by our keynote speaker UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

A serious incident occurred during the day of delivery of the Summit: on the way to Malmö, where the Summit was held, two of the scholarship recipients were detained for over an hour at the Swedish border. A report on the incident prepared by Malmö Pride can be found here. At his request, the report was submitted to Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The objectives of the Summit were:

  • Facilitating a space for in-depth action-oriented discussions about these often-sidelined topics.
  • Creating a deeper awareness amongst a larger public combined with calls to action aimed at government officials regarding intersectional minorities.
  • Generating an opportunity for government officials to learn from people with lived experiences moving them to change policy. Generating an opportunity for officials to learn from people with lived experiences moving governments to change policy.

1:1 Democracy Festival

Date & time: Monday 16 Friday – 20 August, 2021
Venue: Økenehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Participants: 250 – 500 participants

The 1:1 Democracy Festival – inspired by the Scandinavian ‘Peoples Meeting’ (Folkemødet) – ran during all five days of the HRF. This event took place in the same venue as the HRC. Here, we invited the general public to come and go into discussions with community members, politicians and activists and talk about human rights. Two large tents provided space for debates, panels and workshops and there was an important presence of civil society organisations hosted in various smaller tents. Although a strong focus on the LGBTI+ cause, we could not talk about inclusion, acceptation, and discrimination without involving and inviting other minority groups to the square to actively participate and build bridges. Furthermore, there was an integrated alternative cultural program taking place at the square.

Over the course of five days, we expected 25,000 people to visit the square and participate in different ways. There were special timeslots during which we would attract younger and older people through program elements specifically curated for them. The 1:1 Democracy Festival gave participants to the other events the chance to interact with local and international activists and visitors of the square in a less formal setting. It will thereby provide the space for open discussions about different topics. It will enable the general public to have their voices heard by directly addressing policymakers and give activists a platform to draw the attention of politicians and the public to inclusion-related challenges around the globe.

The objectives for the 1:1 Democracy Festival were:

  • Facilitating a space for informal discussions on LGBTI+ and human rights related issues
  • Enabling both policy makers, industry representatives, activists, and civil society organisations to have both set and open discussions with the possibility to include the audience and creating a dialogue across all layers of society
  • Creating awareness amongst the broader public regarding a broad spectrum of different topics within human rights.


All in all, the event days received great feedback from partners, visitors, and others about having a larger human right-focused “village”.

Critical feedback:

Generally, not as many visitors as hoped for due to location and communication (lack of program and overview) and weather (the three first days were rainy).

Date: August 16-21
Time: 09:00-11:30 – 12:00 – 13:30
Digitalized: Yes (recordings available)
Languages: English/Danish

Some general outlines:
• 6 days
• 140+ events; speeches, panel debates, talks, conversational panels, workshops, and creative/cultural events.
• 6 cancellations during the week that. Two because of illness and four because of the border incident in Sweden,
• 10 partners with stalls that were present five days; they all gave positive feedback.
• No major incidents.

Outreach Program

The Outreach Program was an essential part of the HRF. This should be tangible both in themes, content, presenters, and participants. Part of the budget of Copenhagen 2021 was dedicated to enable LGBTI+ people and human rights activists from countries with restrictive legislation, limiting economic conditions or marginalised communities, to participate in the events. Our entire outreach effort was meant to ensure that approximately a fifth of the conference participants (between 200 – 250) consist of LGBTI+ representatives meeting these prerequisites. We therefore set an ambitious goal for an outreach program, to be awarded as full, half, or quarter scholarships.

Scholarships were awarded in accordance with the following principles:

  • A desire to advance the representation and geographical diversity of the forum participants.
  • A desire to advance the representation of young activists.
  • A desire to advance diversity of the LGBTI+ acronym at the forum.
  • A focus on community members that do not identify with binary gender definitions.
  • Participants who have made a unique and special contribution to the advancement of sexual and gender diversity.

Scholarships were awarded after written applications to the board of Happy Copenhagen.

Scholarships were granted to cover full or partial expenses for travel, accommodation (including living expense) and registration fees. The Scholarship Committee asked some grant recipients to perform certain tasks, for example to participate in a discussion panel, as a speaker or to write a text to be published, as a requirement for the scholarship. Nevertheless, in all cases, the safety of the participant in question were of paramount importance when performing an official role.

  • 286 persons out of 309 who applied were granted scholarships and accepted to come as part of our outreach program as a scholarship recipient.
  • Over 600 people were invited but did not come, either due to restrictions related to the pandemic, their country of origin or other unrelated circumstances

Embassy Engagement Programme

In collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs , we reached out to the Danish missions abroad, inviting them to a general briefing on 11 February 2021. Other than sharing our vision, we encouraged the Danish missions to collaborate with the Swedish missions where possible. We also welcomed the possibility to establish collaborations with other entities, as for example other Nordic or likeminded missions and/or the European Union External Action Service, both to share costs and strengthen the message of inclusion. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed their embassies with a diplomatic cable of the importance of engaging in the program before we reached out with the above information and support.

Apart from collaborations between missions, we strongly highlighted the importance of working together with national and regional LGBTI+ organisations and other partners, to directly include the voice of the community. In this regard, we emphasised that inviting local activists and community members to participate in creative thinking, roundtables and discussions would be essential.

We were aware that every country and region needed a different approach when it comes to the execution of an LGBTI+ themed event. We nevertheless found it very important to make sure events would take place in countries outside of so-called developed and high-income countries.

Although we were also aware that the situation in several countries would not permit the mission to publicly organise LGBTI+ themed events – considering the safety and security of possible participants and the relations of the mission to the host country. For this reason, it was for the missions themselves to decide on the best approach, scale, and content of events they could organise with the Copenhagen 2021 team being available for feedback and input, and possible representation during the event.

Over the spring of 2021 we had numerous meetings with Danish and Swedish missions during which we exchanged ideas on what would be appropriate in the country context, keeping local sensitivities in mind.

In April and June our Communications Team hosted a Communications Briefing, guiding the missions on how to promote Copenhagen 2021 on social media, how to use our materials, Press Kit and appropriate hashtags, how to deal with hate speech etc. Additionally, we sent Copenhagen 2021 promotional items by diplomatic mail to all missions that were interested. The packages contained information materials and merchandise of which some could also be useful when making social media posts or as decoration for events. Other materials in the package were sent especially as gifts to be handed out during events.

In this planning period, we experienced a variety in responses from missions. In general, the missions were quite collaborative and keen on hosting events. In countries in the Middle East North Africa region it was difficult for the missions to engage actively and openly on social media, but private events could in some locations still take place.


The outputs of the collaborations with Danish and Swedish missions have been both positive and satisfying to Copenhagen 2021. The interest our missions showed when engaging with local activists and organisations, the willingness to host events, and the creativity used when promoting Copenhagen 2021 was beyond our expectations and brought our event to the world.

Naturally, there were different levels of engagement, depending on the size of the missions and the host country context, national pandemic restrictions, and the budget capacity of each mission. Nevertheless, we were delighted that 56 out of 68 Danish missions worldwide, often together with their Swedish counterparts, activated around Copenhagen 2021. Both Swedish and Danish Missions hosted different events focusing on Human Rights, sports, and/or culture, round tables, debates, receptions, dinners and luncheons and meetings. They also participated in Pride and actively used their social media to focus on the importance of inclusion, coupled to Copenhagen 2021 taking place in Copenhagen and Malmö.

Partners and Sponsors

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