Let's talk about why social justice is vital for climate justice this LGBTQ+ history month

Posted in: Education, Student action

How can we deliver transformational changes to tackle climate change in a world with ongoing social justice challenges?

In this latest blog for LGBTQ+ history month, a second-year University of Bath student has explored the intersectionality of climate change and social justice, investigating the disproportionate challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people as a result of climate change, as well as celebrating the hugely positive impact that the queer community bring to climate activism and action.

The intersection of climate and social justice: understanding the link

Marking 19 years since the first LGBTQ+ History Month, this February we raise awareness of the trials faced by the LGBTQ+ community in history, while recognising the disproportionality of rights that still exist today. This disparity, however, is not just a direct impact of social injustice but is intensified by environmental issues like climate change. Greenpeace argues climate and social justice are two sides of the same coin, with acknowledgement that “climate change is an issue for the developed world” to as well as smaller level disparities like the accessibility of marginalised communities to contribute to climate or social justice. While the worlds may seem far apart, climate justice and social justice are intrinsically linked - to deliver truly sustainable solutions to tackle climate change, it's crucial that actions are inclusive and equitable. 

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The Queer community have always been active in climate justice because, as the photograph says, “There is no pride on a dead planet. The intersectionality is often forgotten as we find companies that put out rainbow logos for February or June for better PR and call it a day. But behind this rainbow façade, they still support anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and fund unsustainable fuel industries. Climate activists and social justice advocates bring these to light, and we can ensure there is change by staying aware and signing petitions that work with what we believe (such as this People and Planet petition calling on Pride to divest and reject sponsorship from Barclays). Queer environmentalists have stood resilient in the fight for climate change, not just because they bear a worse brunt of it, but because they have a strong sense of community hardened by the status quo and supported by ideals of equality and justice, which echoes and aligns with the fight for our planet. 

The vulnerability of marginalised communities to climate change

While most of us have the privilege of living in a dry, sheltered house, much of the world’s marginalised population faces the harshness of climate change. The United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Program classifies LGBTQ+ communities as “hyper-marginalised” and says they are increasingly vulnerable to calamities. If we look just at the UK, 24% of people who are homeless are LGBTQ+. Consider their vulnerability coupled with living on the streets, exposed to the mercy of ruthless rains, freezing winters and scorching heatwaves. The harshness of the weather we complain about, even when we’re indoors. And we know from scientists that climate change will result in more extreme weather patterns.

Vulnerable members of society on the other side of the world, like the Hijra -“Third Gender”- community in South Asia, also face social stigmatisation and are often unemployed and homeless as a result. Climate change has severely changed weather patterns across the globe, with an increased number of natural disasters, landslides, and floods, which have disastrous impacts on these communities.

The importance of inclusivity and diversity

Amnesty International is a Human Rights advocating, non-governmental organisation, and at our university, the society, Amnesty International, represents the values of the NGO. Speaking to the committee and its members, they stressed the need for all activists, advocates and people who care to come together. Often, the “privileged” are seen as the face of this issue. Still, it’s the more marginalised and more affected parts of the population like, ethnic minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community, whose voices need to be amplified. Climate action needs to be an inclusive space. An inclusive space for climate action that supports and works with all members of society. Despite the diversity of opinions that could exist, it would be hard to argue that there is a progression in how the climate is today compared to 10 years ago.

A committee member says “Unfortunately, this progression isn’t towards the better, with the extremes of weather worsening from severe heatwaves to frostbite-worthy dips.

How small actions can help tackle climate change and promote social justice

While large aspects of climate and social justice issues require institutionalised and society-wide change to make meaningful and lasting change, there are still small ways we can help turn the tide. Climate change is fuelled by the inequalities we have in our world, from large corporations that not only widen the world's wealth gap but also promote division in society for profit. These corporations often contribute the largest to carbon emissions by adding fuel to our burning planet.

However, not all hope is lost; just a little chat with your flat mates, making sure everyone is aware of where their money goes, and small acts like following amazing queer environmental activists and influencers like Queer Brown Vegan, Jamie Margolan, Pattiegonia, Out4Sustainability, GiveOut, AKT, True Colours United, Queer EcoJustice Project, Queers X Climate and Our Climate Voices will ensure queer voices are heard. One big thing we can do is make sure we don’t support organisations that actively instigate and fund anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric like the ones mentioned here.

Climate action is the fight for a home for humanity, and social justice is a fight for humanity itself; neither is good without the other.


The author of this blog is a University of Bath second-year student.

Posted in: Education, Student action

Read more on why climate justice is LGBTQ+ justice from Gay Times


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