Anti-gay ‘conversion therapy’ – the attempt to change, suppress or divert a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – has been condemned by medical and human rights groups around the world, but only a handful of countries have actually banned it.

Hear from some of the people who aren’t waiting for national governments to take action:

Benjamin Cohen CEO, PinkNews
Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu East Africa Investigative Fellow, openDemocracy
Rev. Michael Coren Anglican cleric, writer
Neela Ghoshal Associate Director of LGBT Rights program, Human Rights Watch
Chair, Zeynep Sentek Network co-ordinator, openDemocracy

The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will increase police and state powers to crackdown on protests, including imposing start and finish times, as well as “maximum noise limits”. The Government says the legislation will hand powers to the police to take a “more proactive approach” to managing “highly disruptive” protests that they consider to be causing too much public disturbance.

We ask if it's too late to stop the UK police bill, following its latest milestone in Parliament.

Hear from:

Jake Bowers Romani journalist and Drive to Survive campaigner
Becka Hudson Researcher investigating mental health diagnosis, racism and imprisonment in the UK
Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour MP for Streatham
Chair: Nandini Archer Gender and identity editor, openDemocracy

Misinformation is a crucial challenge to women’s human rights in the 21st century. Women are given false and misleading information about their health and rights – including by politically connected right-wing movements that oppose access to legal abortion and contraception under all circumstances. Learn how recent openDemocracy investigations have led to rare, real-world action to prevent misinformation and hear from:

Tatev Hovhannisyan Europe and Eurasia Assistant Editor, openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash project
Laima Vaige Sweden-based Lithuanian human rights lawyer
Neil Datt Secretary of European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Melissa Upreti Vice-chair of the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls
Chair: Nandini Archer Gender and identity editor, openDemocracy


The Labour party suffered across the UK last week, losing the Hartlepool by-election and a swathe of council seats in England, and getting its lowest ever vote share in a Scottish parliament election. How should it respond?

Hear from:

Clive Lewis MP for Norwich South and former leadership contender
Jeremy Gilbert Co-author of ‘Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century’
Maddy Kirkman Labour candidate for Edinburgh Central, disability rights and tenants union activist
Chair: Caroline Molloy Editor, openDemocracyUK


With Scotland voting on Thursday in an election that could lead to a second independence referendum and increased talk of a 'border poll' in Northern Ireland, could the United Kingdom be on the verge of breaking up? And why? Where does England fit in this story?

Hear from a panel of experts from across Britain's political divides about the union's past, present and future:

Sarah Creighton Writer and lawyer from Belfast
Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party MLA for South Belfast
Adam Ramsay openDemocracy main site editor
Richard Wyn Jones Professor of Welsh Politics, Cardiff University
Chair: Peter Geoghegan openDemocracy UK investigations editor and author of 'The People's Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never be the Same Again'


Women journalists often face a backlash for the work they do, but they haven't given up. To mark World Press Freedom Day, meet some of the women around the world resisting sexism and reporting from the frontlines.

Hear from:

Sarah Clarke Head of Europe and Central Asia, Article 19
Zaina Erhaim Syrian journalist and winner of the Press Freedom Prize
Banu Guven Journalist and former presenter for Turkish TV channel, NTV
Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Polish freelance journalist based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Corinne Vella The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
Chair: Nandini Archer Global commissioning editor, openDemocracy


The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act came into force in the UK a decade and a half ago. The act has proved a crucial tool for citizens to hold government, at all levels, to account. But FOI is under threat. Responses to FOI requests are at an all-time low, and openDemocracy has found that requests are being screened and blocked.

In this free live discussion, co-ordinated by the SOAS Influencing Corridors of Power project and openDemocracy, a panel of politicians and FOI experts will explore the challenges facing official transparency in the UK and ask what can be done to protect the public's right to know.

Hear from:

Lord Clark Former Cabinet Office minister responsible for producing the white paper that led to the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Jenna Corderoy Investigative reporter, openDemocracy
David Davis Conservative MP and former Brexit secretary
Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy
John McDonnell Labour MP and former shadow chancellor
Alison Scott-Baumann Project lead, SOAS Influencing Corridors of Power project
Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, National Union of Journalists
Ben Worthy Senior lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of 'The Politics of Freedom of Information'


The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill creates new stop-and-search powers, allows the police to put more conditions on protests, and threatens Gypsy and Traveller rights to roam. It's been met with mass protests from Bristol to Belfast. Is this bill a threat to our human rights – and is there any stopping it now?

Hear from:

Gracie Bradley Director of Liberty
Moya Lothian-Mclean Politics editor at gal-dem
Luke Smith Founder of GRT [Gypsy, Roma and Traveller] Socialists
Zarah Sultana Labour MP
Chair, Nandini Archer Global commissioning editor, openDemocracy


How is artificial intelligence being used in governing migration? What are the risks and opportunities that the emerging technology raises for both the state and the individual crossing a country’s borders?

Ryerson University’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration and openDemocracy teamed up to host this free live discussion.

Hear from:

Ana Beduschi Associate professor of law, University of Exeter
Hilary Evans Cameron Assistant professor, faculty of law, Ryerson University
Patrick McEvenue Senior director, Strategic Policy Branch, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Chair, Lucia Nalbandian Researcher, CERC Migration, Ryerson University


The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has given the answer Boris Johnson wanted to hear: it says the UK "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries".

Many people who bear the brunt of racism are tired of being asked how to end it. So what do white people need to do?

Hear from:

Halima Begum chief executive, The Runnymede Trust
Kemi Akinola CEO/MD of Be Enriched and Brixton People's Kitchen, and councillor in Wandsworth, London
Kehinde Andrews Professor of Black Studies, Birmingham City University; chair of Harambee Organisation of Black Unity; editor-in-chief of Make It Plain; author of ‘The New Age of Empire’
Marcus Ryder Executive producer of new media, Caixin Global; visiting professor at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, Birmingham City University; author of ‘Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond’
Chair: Nandini Archer Global commissioning editor, openDemocracy

The internet was meant to be democratic. But autocrats are using social media to entrench their power and silence dissent.

In the Philippines, journalist Maria Ressa has come under intense attack from the brutal regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. After exposing widespread crimes and killings, she now faces years in jail and is subject to daily death threats, abuse and vitriol online – supercharged by platforms like Facebook.

How do we build a better information ecosystem, which holds bullies accountable and values truth and democracy?

Join us for this free live event with one of the world's bravest journalists.

Hear from:

Maria Ressa: Founder and CEO of Philippine news platform Rappler
Chair, Mary Fitzgerald: Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy


The British government has said that it wants to open up to the world after Brexit. But it is slashing billions from its international aid budget for everything from humanitarian work to global anti-corruption efforts.

How does the UK's 'global' rhetoric square with the decisions it's making? Who will be the losers – and the winners – from the cuts to foreign aid?

Hear from:

Andrew Mitchell MP and former Secretary of State for International Development
Oliver Bullough Journalist and the author of 'Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back'
Sarah Chayes Author and anti-corruption activist. Her most recent book is ‘On Corruption in America – and What Is at Stake’
Alina Rocha Menocal Principal research fellow, politics and governance, Overseas Development Institute
Chair: Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy


COVID-19 has given rise to pandemic nationalism, discrimination and heavy-handed prevention measures against migrants from and within the Global South. What will the future look like for migrations between China and Africa after the pandemic?

Ryerson University’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration and openDemocracy have teamed up to host this free live discussion.

Hear from:

Roberto Castillo Assistant professor, cultural studies department, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Solange Guo Chatelard Research associate at the Université Libre de Bruxelles
Xianan Jin PhD candidate, centre for gender studies, SOAS, University of London
Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi Lecturer, department of political science, Lagos State University, Nigeria
Chair: Oreva Olakpe Postdoctoral research fellow, CERC in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University


There has been a huge increase in the number of women journalists being detained and abused because of their work.

Why is this happening? And what harm does it do to societies at large?

Hear from:

Mona Eltahawy Feminist author, commentator and disruptor of patriarchy. Her latest book ‘The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls’ took her disruption worldwide
Lydia Namubiru Africa editor, openDemocracy
Rebecca Vincent Director of international campaigns, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Watch earlier discussions

Right as the NHS battles 'vaccine hesitancy', why is the government giving a CIA-backed firm – whose spyware has been accused of creating ‘racist’ feedback loops in US policing – a major, long-term role in handling our personal health information, and in England's cherished NHS?

Get the inside story from the journalists and lawyers battling to force transparency from the government on what they're doing with public money – and our health records.

Hear from:

Cori Crider Lawyer, investigator and co-founder of Foxglove, a non-profit that seeks to make the use of technology fair for everyone
Caroline Molloy Editor, ourNHS and openDemocracyUK
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Oborne’s new book covers “Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the emergence of a new moral barbarism”. Get the inside story on the state of the art of lying in politics and the media from three journalists who have seen it all.

Join us for this free event on 25 February at 5pm UK time/12pm EST.

Hear from:

David Leigh Journalist, former investigations editor, The Guardian
Peter Oborne Author and columnist; former chief political commentator of The Daily Telegraph
Chair, Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Even as the vaccine drive gathers pace, there are increasing signs that many ethnic minorities, in the UK and elsewhere, are sceptical about taking it. What is driving this? Racism or targeted misinformation? How big is the problem, and what can we do about it? We talk to doctors and journalists trying to save their communities.

Thuva Amuthan Doctor and former refugee focused on challenges faced by Black and minority ethnic communities. He is currently working on tackling vaccine reluctance among ethnic minorities
Sima Kotecha Award-winning BBC journalist who reported from Italy at the height of the pandemic and has also spent time in Afghanistan and Lebanon. She has frequently reported on vaccine disinformation and hesitancy in the UK
Onyinye Okonkwo GP and co-chair of the West Midlands Regional British Medical Association Black and minority ethnic network - She is involved in reaching out and tackling vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority patients
Chair: Sunny Hundal Social media editor and writer, openDemocracy

The pandemic has forced the closure of borders and worsened the lives of migrants and refugees throughout the world. Their health and jobs are more precarious, their journeys more perilous and their resettlement often suspended.

Are the global agreements that govern migration and refugees able to support safe, orderly and regular movement across borders and solve refugee situations?

Ryerson University’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration and openDemocracy are teaming up for a live discussion to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global governance of migration and refugees.

Hear from:

James Milner Project director, Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN)
Marion Panizzon Research fellow, World Trade Institute, University of Bern
Antoine Pécoud Professor of sociology, University of Sorbonne Paris Nord
Chair: Younes Ahouga Postdoctoral research fellow, CERC in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University

Why does disinformation around COVID and vaccines spread so easily? Is there a link between anti-vax movements and the far Right? And how can the media ensure that the public gets accurate information?

openDemocracy is hosting a live discussion with experts trying to work out what really lies behind the fear of vaccines.

Hear from:

Chamila Liyanage Specialist on terrorism and political violence, Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right
Tim Nguyen Head of unit in the global infectious hazard preparedness department of the WHO health emergencies programme
Jon Roozenbeek Postdoctoral fellow at the department of psychology at the University of Cambridge
Chair, Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Too often the people of the Amazon are seen as victims, but there are young local activists who defend their lands and communities – and are succeeding. openDemocracy has just won a major award for telling their stories in striking, beautiful photography and video.

Hear from:

Pablo Albarenga Sony World Photographer of the Year, 2020
Francesc Badia i Dalmases Director, democraciaAbierta – openDemocracy's Latin America project
Nora Moraga-Lewy Rainforest Journalism Fund manager, Pulitzer Center
Chair, Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Violence, corruption and cynicism threaten America's flagging democracy. Joe Biden has promised to revive it – but can his new administration stem the flow of online disinformation and shady political financing that has eroded the trust of many US voters?

Hear from leading global experts and commentators on what the new president and Congress must do to stem the flood of dark money and misinformation that is warping politics around the world.

Join us for a free live discussion on 21 January at 5pm UK time/12pm EST.

Hear from:

Emily Bell Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School
Anoa Changa Journalist focusing on electoral justice, social movements and culture
Peter Geoghegan openDemocracy investigations editor and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'
Josh Rudolph Fellow for Malign Finance at the Alliance for Securing Democracy
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

The pandemic, populism and public services present challenges that mean that we can't just listen to the same old voices in 2021.

Black and brown women have shown themselves as vital to political organising. But what are their policy priorities?

Hear from:

Diane Abbott MP Former shadow home secretary
Sonia Adesara Doctor and reproductive rights activist
Tara Choudhury Student and activist with the Cambridge Rent Strike campaign
Chair: Nandini Archer 50.50 global commissioning editor, openDemocracy

Meet a woman who has just made history getting the vote out in Georgia, plus experts in the state’s complex and murky electoral politics. Georgians have decided who controls the US Senate – but what else do the results change?

Hear from:

Andra Gillespie Associate professor of political science, Emory University, Atlanta
Greg Palast Investigative journalist, filmmaker and author of 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy'
Nsé Ufot CEO, New Georgia Project
Aaron White North America editor, openDemocracy
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Watch live discussions from 2020 here

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