Urooj Arshad

Muslim LGBTQ+ Rights Advocate & Senior Programme Manager for Freedom House

  • Former Director of International LGBTQ+ Youth Health and Rights for Advocates for Youth
  • Co-Founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
  • Spoken at the Obama White House’s Pride and Heritage Event
  • Recipient of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award
  • Fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute

When Urooj Arshad is booked for events, they are known to discuss the following speaking topics:

LGBTQ Muslims in the age of Trump
Gendered Islamophobia and homonationalism
Global to local: Connecting LGBTQ work in Pakistan to issues affecting LGBTQ Muslims in the U.S.
Understanding Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate
LGBTQ Rights and activism in Pakistan

Urooj Arshad is a multi award-winning advocate who has quite the CV to her name as the former Director of International LGBTQ+ Youth Health and Rights for Advocates for Youth, and the Senior Programme Manager for Freedom House. Urooj has dedicated her whole career to improving, and raising awareness of, the rights of members of the Muslim LGBTQ+ community and served on the delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Now, Urooj has become one of the most highly sought-after speakers on the subject and has presented talks all over the world on homophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia.

Very few could predict the impact their work would have on the rights of millions of people all over the world, after graduating with a degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois, Urooj might think she was one of those people. She began her career working for Advocates for Youth as a Program Manager of the Youth of Colour Initiative. Urooj then remained with the company for 14 years, working her way up to the position of Director. She has since gained over two decades worth of experience advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and has continued to make waves for the rights of Muslim LGBTQ+ people by co-founding the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

As the Senior Programme Manager for Freedom House, Urooj has been helping provide emergency assistance for human rights defenders and civil society organisations under attack. Her work has been featured in the likes of USA Today, The Oprah Magazine, NBC News and Teen Vogue and was subsequently invited to speak at the Obama White House’s Pride and Heritage Event. In recognition of her leading work, it is no wonder Urooj has received numerous awards such as the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award the Young Women of Colour HIV/AIDS Coalition’s Award, the National Association of Asian American Professionals Pride Award, National Queer API Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award, and the Latino GLBT History Project’s Award.

Wanting to expand her leadership skills so she can make the biggest impact possible, Urooj took up a Public Voices Fellowship, a Fellowship with the American Muslim Civil Leadership Institute, and has participated in two Centre for American Progress Programmes. Ensuring actionable change occurs for members of the Muslim LGBTQ+ community, Urooj secured over $1 million in investments to serve the LGBTQ+ Muslim and LGBTQ+ Youth. As a Fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and a member of the Centre for American Progress Women’s Health Leadership Network, Urooj has gained much experience from her ventures in how to educate an audience on the importance of inclusion. Do not miss your chance to hear from one of the leading voices on the rights of the Muslim LGBTQ+ community today.

Official Testimonials

Urooj Arshad is regularly booked to engage audiences at events, read their latest feedback below:

“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, LGBT Equity Centre, University of Maryland

“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

“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, Executive Director, Maruf Foundation, International platform for queer Muslims

“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

To enquire about Urooj Arshad for your event or corporate function, simply contact us via agent@diversity-inclusion-speakers.com or call a booking agent on 0203 9816 297.