Standing at the cross-junction between LGBTQ+ rights and climate change
Fighting for climate justice at Treepoints
Here at Treepoints, we believe in fighting for climate justice, but we understand that the world we live in upholds certain oppressive systems that we need to dismantle in order to protect our planet for everyone and not just the few. This Pride Month, we want to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community for all its on-going efforts and achievements in the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, along-side the continuous fight for equality and justice around the world. But we can’t ignore the intersection that exists between climate justice and LGBTQ+ rights, and the disproportionate impacts climate change can have on marginalized communities.
So, what is intersectionality and how does it relate to climate change?
The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by black feminist Kimberlé Crenshaw to refer to the idea that oppression and discrimination are unique individual experiences, that are both shaped and intensified by varying combinations of social and political identities (race, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc.). For example, where a white woman experiences gender prejudice, a POC woman may experience both gender and racial prejudice.
When observing the effects of climate change on humans, we need to consider how some marginalized LGBTQ+ communities may be more adversely affected than others. In countries more highly prone to climate disasters or hazards, prejudice against sexuality or gender identity can result in some members of the community being refused support or help. In other cases, some (LGBTQ+) people are subjected to substandard or unsafe housing conditions, as a result of social and economic prejudices, which in-turn makes them more vulnerable to extreme weather or climate disasters.
According to activists from the Tonga Leitis Association, as the planet is getting hotter, Tonga has experienced periods of extreme weather which have resulted in stronger and increasingly regular cyclones. However, many of the LGBTQ+ members of Tongonese society are too frightened to access these support shelters, as they are run by religious groups who are known to discriminate, especially since homosexuality is forbidden by law. And in Kingston, Jamaica, many young LGBTQ+ people who have been outlawed from their communities as a result of their sexuality or gender identity, have resorted to building make-do homes that are easily susceptible to floods and hurricanes.