Urooj Arshad is the Director of the International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth, where she builds the capacity of organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global south. She has also designed a project that addresses the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim youth. She is the co-founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), which addresses the intersectional impact of islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.
Urooj was a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and its Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute and a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. She is on the board of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Urooj is the recipient of the Latino GLBT History Project’s annual Mujeres en el Movimiento award; National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s We Speak award. Urooj served on the U.S delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
LGBTQ Muslims in the age of Trump
How LGBTQ Muslims are simultaneously pushing back against gendered islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia during the rise of fascism under Trump.
Gendered Islamophobia and homonationalism
How to unpack why and how gendered islamophobia and homonatioanlism became a political mainstream within the western context.
Global to local: Connecting LGBTQ work in Pakistan to issues affecting LGBTQ Muslims in the U.S.
How issues that affect LGBTQ Muslims in the U.S. like islamophobia, the war on terror and gendered islamophobia have an effect on LGBTQ Muslim organizing in Pakistan
Understanding islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate
The historical and current context of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate as well as ways to dismantle these systems
LGBTQ Rights and activism in Pakistan
Looking at the efforts to advance the rights of transgender people in Pakistan including the passing of the transgender rights bill and advocacy around implementing the recommendations from the law as well as potential opportunities for allies to help advance these rights.
Other topics may also be available on request!
“Urooj Arshad is a gem. She is a deeply passionate community leader, an inspiring speaker who speaks from the heart. Her stories and deep knowledge of intersectional social justice as well as internationalism come out through her talks. She is also a gem because of literal sparkle-- her outfits and style are on point, and she is well known for bringing the bling! Urooj's deep experience, interactiveness, and style are bound to engage students and participants at events. I look forward to every opportunity I have to bring her back to speak on our campus."
- Shige Sakurai, LGBT Equity Center, University of Maryland
"We were lucky to have Urooj give an engaging and thoughtful presentation about the complexities of Queer Muslim life. She managed to encapsulate how her lived experiences and activism are inextricably enmeshed with larger societal structures and politics. She pushed students to think critically and engage beyond their perspectives with her anecdotes of work across continents and with a variety of communities. She didn't shy away from the difficult questions and explaining complex topics, leaving students thought provoked and ready for a fruitful discussion."
- Amina Awad, co-chair of the Minority Coalition at Williams college
"Urooj’s presentation in Oslo, Norway during the 'Intersections of Islamophobia and LGBTIQ+phobia' seminar brought important perspectives from the U.S. Her critical analysis around gendered islamophobia not only grounds the reality of LGBTQ Muslims living in the U.S. within the larger geo-political contexts, it also makes connections that are relevant to those of us living in Europe. Her talk 'Islam and LGBTIQ+ are not mutually exclusive – best practices from the United States' is a testament to LGBTQ Muslim’s struggles in a time of rising fascism, xenophobia and islamophobia but also a reminder that the only way forward is by centering the intersectional lives of those most impacted."
- Dino Suhonic, Executive Director, Maruf Foundation, International platform for queer Muslims
"Urooj was invited to present her work and expertise at a two day workshop held at Columbia University entitled Global Governance of the Intimate. Her presentation 'Pushing back simultaneously against gendered islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia: LGBTQ Muslims in the age of Trump' was deeply engaging and informative for our group of feminist scholars, journalists, and activists working on gender in South Asia and the Middle East. Urooj masterfully touched upon complex issues using accessible language. Urooj has a clear passion and commitment to her work that energized us all."
- Joymala Hajra, Program Coordinator, Religion and the Global Framing of Gender Violence, Columbia University
- Panelist, Columbia University’s Intimacies I and II: Sexualities in Contemporary Muslim Societies, New York, April 2017.
- Panelist, “No Ban, No Wall”: Protecting LGBTQ Immigrants in a Repressive Climate Funders for LGBTQ Issue’s Funding Forward, Seattle, March 2017.
- Panelist, Freedom House’s Mark Palmer Forum for the Advancement of Democracy, Washington, DC, October 2016.
- Keynote Speaker, Intersections of Islamophobia and LGBTQIQ+ Phobia Conference, Oslo, Norway, September 2016.
- Moderator, Capitol Hill Briefing on Supporting Human Rights of LGBTQ Communities through U.S. Foreign Policy with Remarks by the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQ Persons Randy Berry, Washington, DC, July 2015.
- Delegate, U.S. Delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, New York, NY, March 2015.
- Panelist, Capitol Hill Briefing: Programs and Policies to Expand Young People’s Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care and Information, Washington, DC, March 2015.
- Moderator, Capitol Hill Briefing on African Voices for Equality, Washington, DC, June 2014.
- Respondent, Press Conference on the annual State of the World Population report, “By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development” at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, November 2012.
- Presenter, Training on LGBTQ persons in the Middle East and South and Central Asia, hosted by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), and Bureau of South Central Asian Affairs (SCA), Arlington, VA, June 2012.
- Presenter, LGBTQ Pride and Heritage event hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Washington, DC, May 2011.
- Presenter, The European Science Foundation’s Conference on Religion, Gender and Human Rights, Linkoping, Sweden, June 2011.
- Presenter, International HIV/AIDS Conferences in Vienna, Austria; Washington, DC; and Melbourne, Australia, 2010-2014.