IGF 2023 WS #400 From Margins to Mainstream: Making the IGF a Queer-Friendly


Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space

Organizer 1: Ayden Férdeline, 🔒
Organizer 2: Umut Pajaro Velasquez, Internet Society

Speaker 1: Kossi AMESSINOU, Government, African Group
Speaker 2: Caleb Ogundele, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Avri Doria, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Ayden Férdeline, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Caleb Ogundele, Civil Society, African Group


Ayden Férdeline, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What measures could be taken to make the IGF more inclusive, and representative, of the LGBT+ community?
2. How can the IGF realistically integrate intersectionality into its processes to ensure fairness in outputs, both for LGBT+ people, and other traditionally-excluded communities?
3. What policy areas are likely to adversely impact LGBT+ people in the coming year, and where as a community should we direct our energy to create a safer and more supportive online environment for LGBT+ communities?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The session will socialize the idea of building a network that can enable greater LGBT+ participation in Internet governance processes. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, experts, and advocates who share a common interest in promoting inclusive, productive, and representative Internet governance processes for LGBT+ individuals and communities. The session will emphasize the need to understand queer identity in an intersectional manner, taking into account factors such as race, economic justice, and diverse challenges faced by different queer subcommunities. Participants will be encouraged to recognize the complexity of queer identities and to share the challenges they have personally faced, as well as stories of hope of how they have overcome barriers to participation.


The Internet is a vital tool for LGBT+ individuals. It provides a space for support networks and free expression, fostering belonging and empowerment amidst marginalization. However, few openly LGBT+ individuals participate in Internet governance processes.

The Internet has impacts, positive and negative, on LGBT+ people. Some of these impacts are known: (1) hate speech and online violence disproportionately targets queer people, (2) misleading advertisements about HIV preexposure prophylaxis, which falsely claim the drug is dangerous, put gay men and trans women at risk, (3) LGBT+ specific dating apps have changed the ways that LGBT+ people meet and interact with potential romantic and sexual partners, and (4) encryption is particularly important for LGBT+ people in contexts where their sexual orientation or gender identity is persecuted or where LGBT+ people who have not yet ‘come out’ turn to the Internet for advice, support, and encouragement. Other risks are more speculative; for example, with the rise of generative AI and powerful large language learning models, could these tools contribute to the erasure of queer identity and/or expose queer people to persecution or surveillance?

While the challenge of broadening participation within the IGF is not limited to LGBT+ people, it does remain an under-explored issue to consider within the context of the IGF what fairness in Internet governance can or should mean for LGBT+ individuals and communities. And, because sexual orientation and gender identity is but one part of someone’s identity, there is a need to consider queer identity in an intersectional manner, noting both racial and economic justice factors, as well as acknowledging that some queer subcommunities may face differing challenges. The broad strategy for this session is to facilitate a space to begin building out a network that can enable more LGBT+ participation, and therefore more democratic agenda-setting processes, within the IGF.

Expected Outcomes

This session aims to foster dialogue, encourage diverse perspectives, and generate proposals and solutions that promote LGBT+ inclusion and fairness within the IGF. It will encourage stakeholders to consider the barriers to participation that these individuals and communities face, as well as emerging opportunities for LGBT+ inclusion within the IGF. There will also be some issue mapping in order to understand the policy-specific challenges faced by LGBT+ people online. This session will be the beginning of a conversation and will seek to chart a path forward, which will include future intersessional work.

Hybrid Format: This session will have an on-site moderator, as well as an online moderator who will be physically present in Kyoto and empowered to advocate for space for online participants. We expect this to be a fast-moving session, with short interventions from panelists and much dialogue from the floor. However, given the sensitive nature of some the discussions, in order to ensure this session is accessible and safe for all, there will be an online mechanism in place to allow for questions to be asked anonymously. All questions will be screened by the online moderator before potentially being put to the panel or to the audience. In addition, all panelists and online participants will be asked to consider adding their personal pronouns by their name in the online video conferencing platform. This is intended to ensure that individuals are addressed in a manner that aligns with their gender identity.