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2015 11 12 WS 47 How Can Internet Policy-Making Support LGBT Rights? Workshop Room 9 FINISHED
 Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in João Pessoa, Brazil, from 10 to 13 November 2015. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 


>> NADINE MOAWAD: Good morning.

Is this working?

No? Hello? Okay. Thank you.

Good morning, everyone.

Welcome to our session today called How Can Internet Policy‑Making Support LGBT Rights? Someone was pointing out to me the other day, this is probably one of the first sessions at the IGF explicitly talking about LGBT rights. It is quite surprising.

>> [Applause].

>> NADINE MOAWAD: We have a rainbow flag, everything in the room. Yes. Happy, happy to be making history.

Although, you know, we have talked a bit about gender and sexuality under that umbrella in other sessions and other meetings, but we want to make this panel very successfully balanced.

I want to frame the question of how we got here, why we got here. I will introduce the speakers and they'll talk about the work in their local context.

This is the first time I have Chaired one of these. I'm very excited.

Let's turn it on.

To give you a bit of background of the work we have been doing around this topic, early on from the '70s, the '80s, when the Internet was first coming in existence as a network ‑‑ I show this from 1971 ‑‑ people were using Internet for communication. This is the first ever e‑mail that someone ever sent. Of course, now he regrets that he sent this e‑mail because it was ‑‑ this is a worldwide web in '89 with the Lynx.

And this is the first ever image uploaded to the Internet. This was in '92.

In '95, this is a colleague of mine that went to a world conference on women. So you see the women would go to the big conferences where the women right activists were meeting and telling them how to use the e‑mail, telling them how to use websites, et cetera. Then you have a long history of working with women rights and the Internet.

Of course, then we saw in the '90s and 2000, the Internet spread and there was a bringing of an idea that ICT would solve all of the problems in the world. You saw all of these poor African children gathered around the computer, the computer is going to help them, clean their water, build their huts, hunt better, yeah, it will save them. Of course, they're all going to gather around it and do amazing things with computers and a lot of people in the developed world were shocked because what kids mostly wanted to do was play games. People were very upset. Yeah. They're using it for leisure?

How about give it to the women? We'll give it to the women, girls. Yesterday in a session I heard a guy say when we gave Internet to women and girls, they used it for their families, they used it to research healthcare and cooking, all of these things. Whereas I know my mom uses it for Farmville all the time! She loves it! Occasionally she goes to YouTube and learns how to do crafts for the house but she use it is for playing and for leisure.

We have this idea about women's empowerment on the Internet, which is mostly kind of a liberal idea. You give the women Internet, they'll do amazing things individually and this is women who are probably opening an eCommerce website to sell ‑‑ I don't know, shoes or something.

So we have this frame of gender and sex online that's disturbing. It went from being the Internet as free, we all express whatever you want, you can go in the chat rooms, talk about whatever you want to talk about, you could be girl, boy, half girl, half boy, you know, you can be half animal, half person, a weird blob of nothing, and maybe, you know, those of us that used to experience in the Internet in the early days when you didn't have to give your name, nobody knew who you were.

Remember the sort of experimentation we used to have, the weird chats with strangers? Now when people talk to strangers, they think it is strange. Yeah. Who are you chatting with? Some friend I met. You don't know this person? Which was the Internet, it was a long time ago.

Now we have this framework of gender and sexuality now which is, you know, mostly governed by these five things: Number one, vulnerability protection, protect the children. Yeah. Dangerous content online.

Protect the women. What are young people seeing, the Internet, it is dangerous, protect, there is stuff we shouldn't see. Yeah. Like this pink stuff which I assume is some skin. Yeah. Dangerous things.

Censorship, there are things that offend us that we don't want on the Internet such as these images. Some say this is offensive. Who is offended I may ask? Who is offended? That's the panic around the things that women and others are putting on the Internet. Harmful content, all of this conversation on sexual content that's harmful and some sexual content that's okay. Yeah.

This is what we want to talk about, what do we mean by harmful sexual content, why is there a panic, a confusion of LGBT content and pornographic content?

Also the problem is that the decision makers are almost all white older women. We didn't have a lot of LGBTs in the decision‑making tables deciding what is harmful, what's not coming to the IGF, et cetera. This is my fourth and I'm surprised to see this rainbow flag at the IGF. We want all of this framing of gender and sex online, right? Harmful content, you have to be careful, young people, sex, sex, porn, bad and dangerous versus we actually went and did some research back in 2009 in these five countries and tried to look at what about sex and the Internet, we found the following:

Number one, the Internet is quickly connecting around issues of sexuality that are taboo that we can't talk about in the mainstream. There are campaigns about abortion, people want to speak about having an abortion as a right, as something that women do all the time.

Mobilizing, we found that the Internet was quick to mobilize especially LGBT movements. And most if you ask LGBT activists from around the world, most of them say that we started off as a mailing list. This was the case for me, the case for many colleagues, it started as a mailing list and it became something much bigger. You can make points using graphics now easier than points before.

You're trying to put the messages across. This is one example of rapists. How many rapists are falsely accused which are two black women out of all of the yellow.

Question and exploration, people that want to express, talk, want to talk about their sexuality, their desire, their feelings, places where in a mainstream world it is not common to talk about these things. We want to create a space to talk about this, it was especially true for women's sexuality.

We found that there was a violence that happens online. Yes. The Internet was quite violent. It was violent against women and sexual right activist. A women that wants to speak about sexual violence, LGBT campaign, they were facing violence. This is a study we did two years ago that showed that 51% of sexual rights activists people were working on LGBT, abortion rights, et cetera, they said they had received some sort of violent message, hate mail, some sort of an intimidation, someone hacked into their computer, et cetera, et cetera. The surveillance of our bodies as queer bodies and trans bodies, yes.

So we saw this framing of sexuality was hindering not all LGBT rights and broader Civil Rights such as the freedom of assembly to meet online. Yeah, there is some groups that we're not comfortable with them meeting one another online. Freedom of speech, especially of sexual speech and also an analyst will talk about this, when we say freedom of speech, people think religion, government, they forget about sex although this is the mostly censored topics. When defending freedom of speech, nobody cares about sex.

(Speaking language other than English translation).

They don't do the same for the women in the Instagram photo.

We were supposed to have a Google person with us today, I don't know why he ‑‑ hello! Yes! Yes! Please! Please! Please come up. We'll ‑‑ thank you! You will help us. Thank you.

Then we saw something happening with the Internet evolving. This is an example of ‑‑ I think this was during the Olympics two years ago where the Olympics were happening in Russia, that's an anti‑LGBT country. The U.S. is a very pro‑LGBT country, and within this debate ‑‑ there was a question of how can we go online, the queer activists were saying, listen, Russia, they're as anti‑LGBT country because the U.S. is pro‑LGBT and this is how the cold war pans out, right? We're more Human Rights than you. We have more democracy than you. You are barbaric. We're progressive, et cetera, et cetera. So Google did something so interesting. They picked up the statement, it is a global corporation, it takes a stand in a global, heated debate, and everybody was waiting for this, Google puts a rainbow flag up. Shortly after ‑‑ oh.

What is this? Facebook puts this filter on their profile photos for Pride week and marriage equality. I don't know what else. Facebook does something quite similar, which is a global corporation taking a stand on LGBT rights, which is very controversial around the world.

How ‑‑ why is this happening? This ‑‑ I find this very interesting, then Facebook, this is also, very, very interesting. Why is it that these Internet corporations are taking stands on LGBT rights and what it means for the LGBT? We did this exercise ‑‑ I'll come back to this at the end to talk about it a bit. We tried to unpack the different questions. This was very much an overview.

To get started with this: I wanted to ask my first speaker from one of the oldest LGBT organizations in the Middle East if not the oldest one ‑‑ the oldest LGBT organization based in Turkey. Tell us about the history of your organization.

>> YILDIZ TAR: Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here to talk about LGBT rights.

I'm a bit sick. My voice will sound disturbing. I'll try to have a short speech.

Today I'll be talking on freedom of speech and censorship, or my censorship over my LGBT issues in Turkey. We're in the Middle East. The Internet, we have been partners and have implemented research on the legal status of the LGBT on the Internet actually. Mainly we were looking at why does government censor LGBT contents? Is there legal grounds? What should we ask for to change?

Actually before going there, maybe I can give you a preview for us going ‑‑ for what's going on in Turkey.

For Turkey, according to this website with the statistics of the Internet, there is now today more than 100,000 websites that are censored. This means that they're banned from entry. I'm not talking about local content censoring, but this is downloadable and it is much more involved. Most of the censorship, it is really just the government agencies, and usually they don't need any legal procedures or court decision to just ban a website. They have been censoring the website, censorship, it is a wide‑spread phenomenon and much more involved.

What effects our LGBT issues? In Turkey we have a law regulating the Internet saying that there are cybercrimes if you do on the Internet, they'll just ban you. One of them is obscenity, the other one, it is sex working. Although ‑‑ let's talk about the first one that's working.

Although sex working is legal in Turkey, if you help someone become a sex worker, or if you're working, Internet providers, they're doing ‑‑ they're opening the websites, they're opening up a space for sex working and they were banned.

The second one, the obscenity: As you know, it is an ambiguous term. LGBT‑related websites are being banned from obscenity, and sex working ‑‑ although there is no sex working ‑‑ they have decided in a very, very narrow way seeing if there is a gay man or transgender person there, that there is obscenity there. In our research we have seen that in last year in May, in just five websites that had been banned which were like istanbulgay, com, others. If you're gay, you go to Istanbul, you can go to this place. According to their point of view, if there are gay words in a website, this is obscene. We have asked the same two questions, who decide what is obscene? Are there any foundation for that? Is it decided ‑‑ is obscene a crime? This is not a new issue.

Like in 2006 our magazine has been censored and the pornography ‑‑ we didn't have so‑called pornographic images because we were being censored, we were censored, our magazine. Now we see that trend continuing on the Internet issues and, we repeatedly ask questions are the website of the same content but with heterosexual orientation being shut down as well? This is ‑‑ that's to say why are the tourism sites being shut down while the ones with homosexual when you advertise the contents, they're having to be shut down. Who decides whether content is obscene? In legal order is there a motion to create boundaries as obscenity or can people's rights of sharing and receiving news can be disrupted with this notion? This is the situation about the LGBT issues in Turkey, a lot of censorship.

And as I am the editor‑in‑chief of online newspaper, they expect that maybe they just shut us down. They started a little website, but they're coming and I will have two cases and ‑‑ I will just stop talking. I think I'm talking too much.

One, it is ‑‑ I don't know whether you heard, last year in the Pride parade march, there was a police attack in Istanbul, a harsh one. They attacked 100,000 people there. We have been in the street for eight hours, et cetera, et cetera. That's daily life thing. At the same time, there had been cyber-attacks to It is not that much of a coincidence. While in the street, there was attacks against LGBT and we couldn't share views through the LGBT movements in Turkey. This was causing enough suspicion to think that the government policy, the telecommunication policy, it is starting to aim a LGBT movement in a more direct, harsh way.

The second, it is not about government but about Facebook, which I think Facebook gives us more information about LGBT issues. We can discuss it later. I want to open up the discussion like the anonymity standards of Facebook.

In the case ‑‑ at the same time with the Pride, after every parade in the Pride, we got the website back, we just pushed back and we continue our news‑making process and I made news about Brazil here. We're hugging each other half naked in a sense. They were protesting homophobia. I used that photo as an image there. I just connected with the Pride March and Facebook censored it.

If you think ‑‑ if you only just look into the issue of governments, yeah, censorship. I don't think that now we can say that the private sector is so open to the issues or for example Facebook said yes, that rainbow, it was censoring men that are semi‑naked. In the community standards, this means nothing, if you're fully naked, heterosexual, no, they do it, but this one, Facebook Turkey, the approach, it is two gay men hugging one another and the real policy speech, I think it is important in Turkey, we asked local LGBT activists around the newspapers to have news and to have it researched and why ‑‑ what do you think about that real name policy? What is it that's so bad about it? The main answers, they were really crucial.

LGBT people in most of the world are forced to come out, and we believe that coming out is a right. Forcing someone to come out is a really big issue that can end with hate crimes. Facebook by forcing the people to use their so‑called real official names are helping hate crimes in a sense by ‑‑ in the case of Turkey, we have had two cases, our friends, Facebook forced them to show their ID and they changed their name and the day after, the family was after them. This is the one.

The second thing about that real name policy in a sense, I guess most of the transpersons that are transitioning, they don't want to use male or female names that's attached to them. This is not good to force them. In our reports, we try to think that there are a parallelism between the private sector and governments in Turkey and we think that they're just very good with censoring LGBT stuff. I think that's all for this session. Maybe we'll continue with the question parts.

Thank you.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Thank you. We'll now move to an Indonesia IPB about her work on queer and Internet governance in Indonesia.

>> KAMILIA MANAF: Hello. I'm Kamilia from Indonesia. I work for an organization for young queer women organization.

What I would like to share here is about our research, queer Internet Governance in Indonesia and also our program called I pleural, it means I'm pleural in terms of transgender, identity, race, religion in Indonesia.

First of all, our collaboration, our work with APC, Association for Progressive Communication, we had already mentioned the sexual rights project, how it is being done in APC. Our research basically is trying to explore how is the role of Internet for LGBT rights movement or how the LGBT community builds a community and organized a community using Internet.

The second, it is also how we explore the challenge or also the issues about discrimination and violence online that are faced by LGBT in Indonesia.

Actually I want to play a video, how fun it is to launch our queer and Internet Governance in Indonesia. The loading, it is taking too long.

Most of the respondents in our research is the LGBT youth. I'm so happy to see all of this LGBT youth here. I want you to please stand up and bring your flag.

>> [Applause].

>> KAMILIA MANAF: I'm so happy to see lots of LGBT youth in our session. In previous sessions, it is not really happening like this. I don't see really many older people here, maybe parents don't care if you're gay or lesbian or what. This is a challenge that we're trying to discuss in our research because LGBT as part of Internet rights, as part of Human Rights, it is quite hard to talk about it especially if you want to talk to the government. If you want to talk with the technical expert, the communities, if you want to talk about the Internet service providers, if you want to talk about this with even Civil Society organization in general who talk about Internet.

That's the research. What I did with my colleague, we did try to mix several multistakeholder to talk about why Internet sites in Indonesia is blocked. We met also the representation of the government, from a National Commission on Human Rights, it is very difficult. Even in our Civil Society level we're recently blocked from any conversation related to Internet Governance if we have kind of like offline meeting, just an offline meeting. They think that LGBT is too aggressive, LGBT, you're not compensating this cousin in ‑‑ what is it ‑‑ in proper way within the multistakeholder. Can you imagine even we talk about with the society it is not even really welcomed.

In the second way, we met with the technical. We also have Internet blocking providers. They don't even understand what is LGBT and when I ask to ‑‑ this guy from the Internet blocking provider, I asked why are you doing this, why are you blocking the LGBT site? He even asked me back what is LGBT? That's not a challenge with technical experts.

When we met with an association of Internet provider, they say that the first time when we asked them, we talked more about industry, even we don't have any idea at all how Internet relates to Human Rights and how even we want to talk about LGBT. We do agree, if you're website for example doesn't contain about porn, pornography, it should not be blocked.

The reason why Internet LGBT sites block is because it is considered as pornography and what we have found is not all the sites in LGBT, not all are blocked. It is confusing. You can see here, the Internet Governance is also not really manageable with the pornography itself. Different Internet service provider have different methods for blocking and filtering.

Whenever we want to talk to the government ‑‑ well, of course, it is hard, for example, to meet a representative of the Minister of Communication so we just try to talk with the National Commission of Human Rights as part of the government body, and their support. Even the Human Rights, the issue of Internet rights, Internet Governance, it is a new thing for them and they have to really understand what it is about. From this process, I can see that, yeah, we feel objecting, we're mad if LGBT sites block without notification or even informed to us why it is blocked.

It is a long work that we try to build a website, communities there, people connect, et cetera, in that website. A lot of data information that is built in our website and then suddenly it is blocked. Then we don't have a clue of why it is blocked. They play Ping‑Pong to each other. We don't do this. We don't do that.

The recent development, it is the national police Department of Indonesia, they just released a formal letter of anti‑hate speech. Good news, one of the contents, we should not do hate speech towards LGBT. If you do that, it will be considered as criminal. I want to think that's good news.

On the other side, within the Human Rights activists, Indonesia ‑‑ it is kind of like two sides of coin. The Human Rights activists will think ‑‑ the formal letter from the national police department will be used against freedom of expression because for Human Rights perspective it is not really clear what's hate speech and what you should do. Especially they make this letter in order to phrase the election soon, in December.

Yeah. In one side we should see the positive thing, that national police Department of Indonesia thinks that LGBTs should not be discriminated in online space, and on the other side my question is why if you ask people not to do hate speech online but then we're criminalized under antipornography law which was legalized in 2008 because they consider any media with LGBT is considered as pornography. Good news from the Minister of Religion, a good piece of knowledge, sadly they say in public space, yes, LGBT, it is a choice. We should respect that. I can consider again this is a very good news from the Minister of Religion. Sometimes I feel all of this statement, the decision from the government side, we should see it in a positive way, but when we come back for example, for the youth, for LGBT, it is very hard for you to come back home, to be out, to be gay, right, and within the school, within the education environment. Especially ‑‑ okay, sorry. Especially if you're a part of the minority group on your religion and race, that's why we did a program called I Pleural and we'll talk about the gender establishment, the identity, the religion, race.

Thank you very much.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Cool. Thank you.

We have some very interesting points being raised. Number one, why is LGBT content considered pornography, who decides what is obscene? This real name policy issue of not wanting people to be anonymous, the hate speech against LGBTs. It is very important issues.

I turn now to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the policy specialist on freedom of expression and ICTs. He'll tell us a bit about their work also in this area.

>> Thank you. Thank you for coming. This is not only the first session maybe ever on the IGF concerning the LGBT issues, you also managed to fill the room. That's great news for this movement.

>> [Applause].

>> We're not a part of the government, but we're a governmental agency and we're supporting the development cooperation, actors across the world. We have embassy ‑‑ we have staff at 34 embassies around the world where we're trying to support Civil Society actors and other actors in the development cooperation. My part here is to explain partially how we're working and also what the challenges and possibilities that we see when it comes to you, experts with these issues, working with people like us at SIDA.

These issues that we're discussing now, they're so important, especially when it comes to freedom of right issues. What's interesting, the LGBT perspective could actually bring some input to the multistakeholderrism that IGF is supposed to uphold based on the fact that ‑‑ sorry ‑‑ based on the fact of issues concerning rights issues are becoming so important when discussing Internet Governance. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance the big issues in terms of Internet Governance to do more near or to promote more basic issues which we call the reality, but I think that LGBT could be such an issue which could make it possible. When we see how important forum pace, networks, meetings and tools are for LGBT movements around the world, even in countries that the LGBT issues are so sensitive that the people concerned with LGBT issues or just based on the fact that they're LGBT persons need to be secretive about their doings, their identities or also working on the ground, I think these moments when we meet in safe, open environments are more important than ever.

There are many aspects around this that could be interesting to discuss.

I want to raise some issues that SIDA is working with in all sectors, not the LGBT issues only: First of all, SIDA is working with something that we call a multidimensional approach to the power. We're discussing poverty in terms of economical power, but also when it comes to influence and political power. We're stating we need political and economical power in terms of being empowered citizens around the world and this, of course, is also a matter of Human Rights. This means in our work we're using a Human Rights approaches in each and every sector we're dealing with.

At the table at the side I have left some papers explaining how we're working with Human Rights‑based approach in LGBT issues in different countries. I'm very happy if you want to take some of those notes because we have examples from Colombia, Brazil, Southeast Asia, so on. You can see how we're working, we as SIDA are working on this approach and take it back to your partners that you're working on and we'll have concrete, creative discussions on the topic.

The material here, it is part of something that's being launched in Switzerland today, the Human Rights based approach, methodology material that SIDA is working with. I'm very happy with that, by the way. We're working closely with local actors taking ownership of the issues. The specific ‑‑ we're very decisive in the approach that local issues should be dealt with by local experts. We're, of course, part of the process and we can aid with money, funding, supporting other ways, but when it comes to change and social change, people that are within the processes of change are also the most competent experts.

An overarching insight of how we're work, when it comes to Internet and Internet issues and LGBT issue, it is important cross‑border synergies that could be made. Some challenges have been mentioned here. We see also policy issues as a big challenge. We see social platforms effecting people in real ways. We also see social platform sensitivity with sexual content and sexuality which we should discuss with platforms, not only about platforms. We see the technical challenges, we see for instance a number of recent hacks of big and well‑known sites which tend to create a pause in the Internet freedom environment, especially the technical communities. There are, of course, many communities that don't think it is funny. One such example could be where recent hack on a very popular dating site put many LGBT persons in real risk in their home environments where their activities or identities were not well‑known.

We also see a lot of legislative issues. Of course we see the Internet, the liability issues, where Internet service providers are not really well informed on how to deal with sexuality and identity issues. This is also governmental issue, of course, where a lot of governments and agencies across the world seem to struggle with how to deal with moral content, immoral content in terms of what content their citizens should be allowed to see.

This is, of course, based on the question, the dignity, the complicated question. We live in a well‑educated world but LGBT, it is a complicated issue in many countries. That's why it is so important to try to balance those negative parts with an understanding that Internet is so important for so many in most personal ways.

This is something that we're discussing a lot internally, of course, but something could be pointed out. For instance, we see sadly ‑‑ this is sadly because this is reactive, this approach, well established portfolio when it comes to safety issues, we have safety programs for Human Rights defenders but also for journalists, women right defenders, women ‑‑ there are ‑‑ that are subject to gender‑based violence but also LGBT persons.

We're working with support to legal sectors in order to make sure that the legislatures across the world have the competence and capacity to work with rule of law and a rights‑based approach to the doings. We're working with smaller actors of which some may be here and also about with bigger actors like the Coalition of African Lesbians and the other groups and we're also working with leadership programs as the international rainbow leader program. Not to be forgotten, we work in countries where LGBT persons are under great risk in most ‑‑ in some of the ‑‑ in most free countries of the world where a safe networks, and with this I mean both personal networks, social networks, technical networks are of great or total dependence of their well‑being.

I think what's interesting, the discussion between the Internet and Human Rights, they have quite rapidly escalated. A few years ago we were discussing ICT for economic empowerment of women, for instance. It is not really until quite recently where the issue of gender‑based violence online or tech‑related gender‑based violence has been so central as it is this year.

This makes us happy. We can actually connect the networks that we have built for so many years in different sectors and actually find synergies between them to move ahead. This is why we for a couple ‑‑ the last couple of months, years, we have immobilized both Swedish networks and international expert networks when it comes to for instance gender‑based violence online.

Suddenly we're seeing the same thing with the LGBT issue, what we have been inspired to do with this session, is to discuss internally how we can connect more networks of our partners. Maybe we shouldn't wait for things to happen, but maybe SIDA is a catalyst, a facilitator of the discussion and an exchange of information between, for instance, the Internet Governance community, the tech community, also the more established LGBT community of which we have a support. With our very well established context, I think this could be an interesting idea to discuss further and most of all, I would like to discuss that with the panel and with you in this room.

Thank you so much.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Thank you. Building those synergies as a tool, bringing them together. Very interesting points raised.

We have also Ross. He's head of public policy and governmental affairs for Google.

You heard some of the issues, concerns, history, the issues around content, who makes the decisions. We want to hear from you as well Google's commitment to advancing LGBT rights and how that works within your algorithms, your technology, within your design?

>> Thank you for having me.

I want to actually also acknowledge how fantastic it is that we finally have a panel at IGF on these issues, and it makes a difference in sometimes small ways that you don't quite realize.

I'm doing a series of meetings with senior government officials, and I was just meeting with a senior government official from a more conservative part of the world and he asked me what I was doing next. I was proudly able to say that I'm going to the panel on LGBT rights and he gave me a look of sheer terror and ran away from me. I think even small moments like this are teachable moments to remind people at IGF that there are lots of LGBT people here, we're very engaged, committed to these issues. And to be actually speaking about them for the first time, I really want to congratulate you, everyone in the room for doing that.

You know, at Google, I have been there for eight years now, from the very minute I stepped in the door, it was very clear to me that the company was committed to LGBT rights. It never really has been a question of whether or not we would support LGBT people. It was always a question of how to do it. Finding new ways to do it.

I think the way we think about it, it falls in a couple of different categories: First, we do it because we want to do the right things for our employees. We know that we have a lot of LGBT employees and we want to do the right thing for them regardless of where they live, Asia, Africa, wherever it is.

You know, we have really incredible inclusive policies and policies that support our employees, and it really does make a difference when you know, you have a huge ‑‑ we have a huge office in Singapore, for example, in that office we provide medical and other benefits for same‑sex couples and for transgender employees just like any other employees. We pay for transgender surgery, full medical services. That influences not just our employees, other companies in Singapore see us doing that and it is a competition really for talent in a lot of places. By doing that, you start to raise the norm and standards of other companies, it is bleeding into the broader community and even Singapore‑based companies that hadn't thought of that, they want to find talent and it is important to build an inclusive workplace. That's a key thing that we do.

Most of the policy around the world we do, it is focused on privacy, free expression, issues like that. LGBT issues are one of the few examples where we do get involved even though we wouldn't normally think about it as directly effecting our business or our products. That's partly because of the employees, partly because we see it much as a Human Rights issue and free expression issue.

We do get engaged ‑‑ you know, my first month at the company in California there was Proposition 8 about same‑sex marriage. I was having my first meeting with very, very, very senior persons at the country and I was going in to advocate that we needed to get engaged. We never had done anything like that before. This guy's name, David Drummond, he's an African‑American man, one of the leaders of the business, he says I was already made my decision, gay rights are Human Rights, same thing as Civil Rights in the United States, the decision is made, we'll support gay rights on this thing. Not only he, but our cofounders donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to defeat this antigay marriage.

You know, we get engaged in broad ways. You showed Sochi, that Goodle. It was important for us to do. They start dialogue. They let people know that we support them. We do things ‑‑ like in Singapore again, we were the first corporate sponsor of Pink Dot. Every other company was afraid to step up, to be associated with this very early stage LGBT movement. We said we had to do it because we have LGBT employees, they were going to Pink Dot. We were going to march with them. It is not just the LGBT employees showing up at Pink Dot, all employees and colleagues show up as well. It is again sort of making a difference.

The last story I want to tell, something that struck home with me. Last year in Budapest ‑‑ things in Hungary are not moving in the right direction in a lot of ways. Harvey Milk nephew's Stewart, he's a friend of mine, we support his foundation. We decided that Google was going to be at the front of the Pride march. The government saw that, they doubled the police presence. They made sure that the march wasn't harassed like the year before because honestly they were afraid of angering a big American company and its employees and what the repercussions may be. It was a very, very striking image to have these ‑‑ to see the activists, you know, and for them to tell us afterward that, in a way, you provided us a shield for us, you know, we didn't get as much violence directed at us that year. We acknowledge that ‑‑ as a larger American influential company we can have conversations sometimes that are more difficult for activists to have. We do have those conversations, sometimes we do it privately, quietly, sometimes we do it in a more open manner like Pink Dot and Pride parade.

Last thing to emphasize, I don't know if many of you heard of this thing called the Victory Institute. I'm on the Board of Directors. Google supports them financially. A thing that they do, Victory holds trainings throughout the world for LGBT activists to train them in policy and politics and to get them to run for public office because really, you know, how well this all really changes is for us to be out, for us to do things in small ways for me telling that minister that I'm going to the LGBT panel, reminding them that we exist and all of us getting engaged in the political system when we have LGBT politicians, lawmakers, policymakers in parliament all around the world, that's when things start to change. That's what the Victory Institute is all about and why am I on that board? Because Google wants me to be on that board and is making the contribution that allows me to do that sort of work.

We can get into issues of bullying, the use of the Internet to build communities and bring this community together in a way that we never have been able to do before especially among the transgender community. A lot of activists told me without the Internet, they said I would have killed myself a long time ago. I was able to meet people online and build a community that I wouldn't otherwise have. I'm happy to deal with the bullying issues. I wanted to start with an overview of how Google is engaged and why we're engaged.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Perfect. Thank you, Ross.

I think we will also want to get to the discussion, talk perhaps a bit about the search algorithms, about YouTube, the role it plays as well. We would love to hear about the anti‑harassment and bullying.

We do have Pashaka who will give us a ‑‑ a bring it home, together, some reflections on the discussions that we have had so far. We'll then open the floor for questions and comments.

>> I don't know if I can bring it all together. I want to continue the story‑telling tradition by telling stories.

I have written this down. The first, cultures of surveillance, she's a dentist. He's a software engineer. They have had an arranged marriage. He likes to wear lip gloss and invite men over to the house claiming their business acquaintances. She starts to get suspicious. She installs hidden cameras in the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room. She goes out of town for ten days. He invites a man over. They're caught having sex on camera.

She goes to the cops and has him arrested under section 377 an infamous section that criminalizes homosexuality in India. The media outs him, concealing his name but revealing so much, including the company and the exact department in which he works that it is as good as revealing his name. Mainstream media takes her side, projects mainly her point of view. Online blogs, et cetera, they're the only outlets for telling his side of the story. I emphasize with her, I really do for marrying a gay man. Why not divorce him? Why jail him? Her actions after the episode, after the episode is questioned, not before.

She surveilled him. He lost his privacy. His sexual anonymity doesn't matter. All that seems to matter is that he's gay and that's why the marriage ended. His sexual identity is now known but who cares? All of the sympathy is with her, although it is a saddening for two people that never should have been married to each other. A story that's rooted in digital surveillance.

That's the first story I want to tell to get the connection between technology and LGBT lives.

The second one, it is about trans naming and it is the trans naming and the case of Chelsea Manning.

As many people know, Chelsea Manning was formally Bradley Manning, who was a Private in the U.S. Army and then came out and declared herself as a transperson and as Chelsea. In 2013 we had a case in Wikipedia, one of the communities I'm a part of, where Chelsea declares her trans identity at that time. The question for Wikipedia editors was what name to use in her Article? Chelsea, Bradley? Initially it was changed to Chelsea, but then there was a huge editorial argument which got somewhat vicious. Two editors were indefinitely banned from contributing to Wikipedia on pages relating to any trans topic over discriminatory speak.

Two comments: One wrote that only when his testicles are ripped out of his scrotum will I call Manning a she. That's the comment that got him removed from the platform. The second wrote, among other comments, that he is clearly mentally unstable and his desire to be called Chelsea should not be regarded with any merit.

The reason I'm bringing this up, this is also like naming identity, issues in the digital world, it is very much a part of governance because the people that decided to ban the two editors, they're people that are sort of involved in the governance of Wikipedia, the world's fifth biggest website. Strangely enough though, another editor that basically pointed out that some of the conversations were transforming, also was banned. It became sort of a really complicated issue part of the reason, less than 1% of contributors to Wikipedia self‑identify as trans. To be honest, I'm not even sure that it is transphobic or just an ignorant atmosphere which then is sort of the border is blurred and it goes into transphobia and these comments which then make it a very hostile atmosphere for other trans editors who are also online and are viewing these kinds of comments and who may be anonymous or may have a different identity because you don't have to reveal your real name or identity. This is a particularly complicated one.

If I may have one more minute, I wanted to show one thing. Can I just wave to the ‑‑ that little slide, yeah. Yeah.

If it comes up. It is literally 1 minute. Yeah.

This is my colleague. They did a comparison of two dating websites, one is aimed at lesbian women and another. I just have to zip through them. This is Planet Romeo, it is for gay men. A main finding was that ‑‑ this is a very gendered understanding of love and section that's promoted by these two platforms because Pink Sofa aimed at lesbian women is all about love and friendship, not about sex. Whereas this is a still from Planet Romeo, I don't know if you can clearly see it. If you go to the sites, you will see that a lot of the questions, et cetera, et cetera, for men, it is all about sex. It is all about what is your body like, what are your private parts like, this, that, et cetera. Just to say that the platforms really I think should give both lesbian women, gay men, trans people much more choice in their design.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Thank you so much.

Let's open the floor. We have 25 minutes. We'll take questions, comments.

Do you want to play it now or after?

Do we have a first round of questions?

Yes. Come. Okay.


>> Hello. I'm Julia.

First thing first, I wanted to say thank you. This is a really nice room. I am already feeling very empowered.

Second, I would like to address a question for all of the table and especially to you from Google. I want to say, I'm an LGBT activist, I wanted to ‑‑ I'm leaving this room thinking about how can I strive for empowered LGBT community within my CV, accreditation, how can I do this? What social media platforms, but not ‑‑ the Internet is not just about social media platform, it is much more than that. How can I do this, how can I empower everybody, me as an individual? We saw you talking as a big institution, that it is Google. How can I do in the day life, how can I empower friends, relatives, how can I bring this sense of community and the sense of empathy that empowers LGBT community?

Thank you.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Thank you so much. Let's take a few more questions.

Come up here.

>> AUDIENCE: Hello. I'm from the Philippines.

It is good to note it is not just about ICT policy that we're trying to infringe on the LGBT rights. You say ICTs and rights online. There are also other policies. There is this ‑‑ I think ‑‑ I'm sharing that new policy. You talked about the Human Rights experience in Indonesia, there is this Human Rights, it is an Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights which were ‑‑ we have been engaging and which actually are trying to introduce policies that should ‑‑ policies that they can only engage organization ‑‑ they can only engage with organizations.

Who are acceptable, just to share, these policies, the accreditation policy, it is really difficult, there are some countries that may not ‑‑ that may not accept the LGBT policies, we're trying to engage with that.

Another one, thank you for a lovely panel. I think it is also ‑‑ it is also ‑‑ I think ‑‑ I would love to hear good news ‑‑ I mean good ICT policies that are really supporting LGBT rights or what do we want? What do we want in ICT policies that will really put forward LGBT rights?

>> I want to share some thoughts from Pakistan, we have a divide with the LGBT rights. On one hand, we do see involvement online. We see blogs on sexuality such as those about sexual minorities and we see individual activists working for the LGBT rights cause.

On the other hand, the organizations working on LGBT rights are few and far between, I recently met with a few of the activists. It is interesting, there is one organization in Pakistan and they work on HIV particularly and male health and other LGBT rights. They have an inrisk underscorability policy online. They used to have a Facebook page, Twitter page, after receiving backlash because of a politician met with them and that politician was labeled as somebody who is a homosexual people, they took off the video, they were being tracked by euro agencies and others and receiving death threats. When I spoke to them, they were anti ‑‑ like against the idea of having an online movement, let alone having their pages online and everything. I just want to know how to engage with these organizations and these activists. We're starting with this digital world with them, how do we move forward, telling them that the Internet can actually help them and help their organization also? Clearly there is no off line movement in Pakistan so to speak.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE: I'm from the Youth Observatory.

I want to share about the reality of the LGBT here in Brazil.

Here we have some that are leading the chamber of Human Rights in minorities here. They are against the LGBT, against the Human Rights and against the minorities. The leader of the chamber, he tried to put in Brazil a gatekeeper here in Brazil. Being gay is a disease, it is not actually a good thing. We're sick. It is bad.

We have a lot of hate speeches of leaders, politicians here like Borsano and other ministers like Malafai, here in Brazil, we have a lot of balance against the LGBT societies. We have a trend, we have gays that are dying and being violated and this is a bad thing here in Brazil, not only in Brazil but in Pakistan and Turkey.

My question is, how can we prove to society, how can we prove to the politicians that the LGBT rights are Civil Rights, Human Rights? We know LGBT rights is this. They don't. They actually think it is a privilege, but not a privilege, it is something that they have, but that is not guaranteed by the State. How can we prove to them that it is not a privilege, but it is an actual right is my question.

Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE: I have two questions for Google.

I know that you have these functions, but who gets to decide what exactly is safe and what is not?

Second, a question for my friend, I may be wrong on this, please correct me.

The safe abortion, they're not appearing on the search results. Who is actually ‑‑ is that manipulation behind that? Thank you.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: We have five questions, two about empowering LGBTs, how to use the Internet for that, how to get people technology, these are our rights, then a specific question about so what are ICT policies that are supporting LGBT rights? We talked about the policies that hold us back, right, the censorship, the blockage, the filtering, et cetera, what are positive examples of good ICT policies and a question from Pakistan on how do we convince LGBT activists to get online. Some are not convinced.

Finally, a question about the safe search function on Google, who decides what is safe and what isn't? A question about abortion links coming up, is there a change in the search results that leads in some links appearing, some not appearing, there was an issue on this a while ago.

A lot of questions. I don't know. Shall we start?

Would anyone like to respond?

You want to say something?

>> Good ICT policies, I'm racking my brains. Yeah.

No, seriously! I think if we move in a direction where we took away sort of some of these policies that are very subjective related to obscenity and we replaced ‑‑ we're seeing this in country after country that vital sexual health information is being lost in the name of obscenity.

If we want to lobby for good ICT policies, we should really think about telling people that policymakers, that there is information. Information is not obscene just because it contains the word sex or deals with certain issues. That's really the direction to try and push. I know in all three of our countries, Turkey, Indonesia, India, we have exactly the same problem. That all the good information ‑‑ I don't say good information, bad information, all of the information, all of the possibilities for expression, all of these, they're really getting lost because of these kinds of laws and the other thing I think is also to talk a little about how can policies uphold the freedom of sexual expression?

Even in the free expression debate, you know, like was said, we think of religion, politics, people are prepared to fight for free expression in those names. There is always a little bit of uneasiness when it is related to sex, whether it is information, expression, exploration, whatever. To make a legitimate case under the free expression bucket for explicitly freedom of sexual expression and distinguishing that from obscenity, et cetera, et cetera.

>> Maybe I can continue?

Apart from the big words there, we need to think about or act about the daily life issues. An organization was founded 21 years ago, it was a magazine, it was illegal, just two papers, a magazine, people trying to tell their stories. I don't believe that ‑‑ the social change comes from the legal changes, policy making, yes, we need that too. We all continue to think that.

We need a social change that can back up and that can demand the things to be done. If we don't have a social support, a social movement, just a cultural change in the society, we won't be successful in changing anything.

The problem starts there. How to reorganize. How can we organize one another.

There is a lot of answers. My answer to that, it is, like, still being a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender means that most of the world, your story is not words telling. It is what you learn from while you're children, while you're a young man, woman, whatever you are, you are a green up, still the basic thing is to share that knowledge that, yes, your story is worth telling and by telling your story you can inspire others and become ‑‑ and come close together and change something. We're trying to do the same thing for 21 years in magazine, newspaper, articles, people just write about daily lives. You wake up, do something, she goes to the bar, saw a nice girl, she sat, did something, she's rejected, felt sad, this is daily life things but this is the thing that ‑‑ we have to show ourselves that we have stories worth telling. If we can do that, we will have a social change that can force Google to do something. Like Google or other big companies, governments, they're nice in a sense. They won't do anything with no social pressure on them. In America, there is a huge LGBT movement, always impressed, when you go to the Senate, the other places, they have the LGBT rights. The beginning, it is like the personal stories I guess.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Very beautifully said about the power of narratives and the power of the Internet to help us tell the stories that are otherwise not.


>> Thank you.

I think ‑‑ I want to respond to the question posted by ‑‑ about the Asian, the connection with the LGBT movements. This is something that we need to discuss more thoroughly. Maybe not in this room. According, if you have a standing ground that the LGBT rights are also Human Rights we have to see that all actors within Human Rights are facing different difficulties around the world currently. One of those issues is, of course, the shrinking space for Civil Society meaning that all groups are working in marginalized issues or targeted issues and facing similar threats and complications. One of those complications, it is the difficulty of organizing in a way that actually can be met by actors like governments or other international organizations.

That's why we need to discuss issues ‑‑ is it possible for actors like SIDA, other governmental institutions to work with actors that are not organizations but may be other entities? How could that look? How could we adopt accordingly to the situation on the line but also ‑‑ adapt ‑‑ how could actors like you in the room work through actors that are safe, so to speak? We have Google, excellent examples of Google, of how they work with policy issues. We have good international organizations that are so big that they're basically untouchable like ILGA for instance that I want to highlight here.

There could be a possibility to work on this in a more flexible, creative way in order to make sure that the Human Rights are safeguarded in each and every sector.

Thank you so much.

>> I wanted to ‑‑ there was a question on the safe search function.

When we first ‑‑ it is done by an algorithm, just like the regular search engine is done. I wanted to highlight, when we first provided that option, we made some mistakes and we realized that we were blocking LGBT advocacy websites when the filter was first put in place. A year and a half ago we realized that it was happening and we not only adjusted the algorithm but publicly announce that had we had basically messed up. We did that because we thought it was powerful to acknowledge that and basically tell the world that we don't always get it right. We messed up. We recognize that we really messed up and it was a big mistake. That in a way communicates there shouldn't be this blocking of sites with pornography materials and LGBT advocacy sites. When you mess up, acknowledge you messed up, use it for a moment for internal teaching and communicate to the west of the world.

I wanted to address the question about also if people don't mind about empowering, you know, being empowered, you know, how do you build a community. I think online tools can really help, online platforms.

I wanted to say that there is no one‑size‑fits‑all approach. You know, I don't know where you are, I don't know how safe you are. I think it is important for those of us that are engaged in online activity to keep that in mind. That there are many governments that not only force ISPs to block pro‑LGBT content, but they monitor manually, they have their officials monitoring sites and using the information they glean online that's public to then go after activists. It depends on where you are and I want to raise that point. the point that we try to do our best to provide these tools and these platforms and to be pro‑LGBT. When the online world turns to the offline world, a lot of younger people honestly don't always appreciate the need for their own physical safety with the online activism and the online safety is very linked. It is important to keep that in mind as you go about doing your advocacy.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Could you also speak ‑‑ do you have the same policy on safe abortion that you support women rights, safe abortion and you make efforts to change the algorithm on that too?

>> I don't know that specific case.

What I was hoping, is that I could find out more information after the panel and then I can follow‑up on it. I don't show up here and pretend I know all of the answers to everything. I don't. I want to get the specifics and then we can pursue it.

You know, in general, how it works, it is ‑‑ we ‑‑ when we have a locally based product with a country domain, we abide by the laws in that country.

If abortion is ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ certain forms of abortion, whatever, if it is illegal we get the court order and we check it, we verify it. Ultimately if it is illegal, we take it down. What we do, we at the bottom, go to by doing that, you will go to the global site where a lot of the locally oppressive laws and regulations, we call it the right to travel internally. That's a way for people to get more information, content than they would at their local site.

>> NADINE MOAWAD: The global one follows the United Nations law?

>> It follows U.S. law because we're a U.S. company with UN Human Rights policies.


Such a fascinating intersection of technology, design, rights, Human Rights, sexuality, sex.

We have a video we want to play before we finish.

I want to say thank you very much for coming.

We hope ‑‑ you have a question? Okay. We'll take a question.

>> AUDIENCE: So I'm just ‑‑ quickly to wrap up, I would like to hear what each panelists think, the panel on LGBT issues at next IGF, what should it discuss and if there is anything in particular that you think we as community should be doing in the interim through our national IGFs or to coordinate so that there are more discussions in other IGF forums where it is related?

>> NADINE MOAWAD: Good question.

Let's take an answer, and then we'll play the video and then we also invite you right after this panel if you're interested we're launching a book on sexual rights in the Internet in workshop room 2 ‑‑ 10. 10. 10. Okay.

Pass by, pick up a copy of the book, it has 50 case studies from around the world, case studies about sex and technology. A lot are about LGBTs, but a lot are about sex education, sexual health, abortion rights, et cetera.

Would someone like to address the question?

>> I have ‑‑ ‑‑ I would like to say what I loved about the question, you assumed that there would be an LGBT panel at the next IGF, right.

I would say let's think about that. Let's make it an annual feature not just at the IGF but also really try to put out workshop proposals in all of the regionals, et cetera, et cetera. That's what I would say.

>> We need this. There may be stories about digital storyboarding and someone could make it fit the LGBT issues rather than a general concept, we could have that kind of thing.

>> I think most of the issues we're discussing on this panel, it could be one on each session of its own in the next IGF and I want to say that the report, it is magnificent and those that supported it by SEDA.

>> (Laughter).

>> NADINE MOAWAD: I see a really good initiative from the Philippines actually.


>> The international Human Rights commission from the Philippines, they give training to the police for gender, women's rights and LGBT rights and since in Indonesia the national police department just released for anti‑hate speech against LGBT, so it means support for LGBT and I think that probably it is good how to connect Philippines, Indonesia, countries to work together with a follow‑up, there is a good formal letter from the national police department and the Philippines have a good training for the police, how we connect that for us here for a better policy in the future Internet for LGBT.

I would like to talk more about that with you.

Thank you.