June is pride month. Let’s talk about how climate change affects the LGBTQIA+ community. Many times gender takes a backseat during conversations of climate change, sustainability and the actions proposed to save the planet. But it is an important aspect that can no longer be ignored.
The LGBTQ+ community is one of the marginalised groups of people who are disproportionately affected by climate change. Based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is evident that people who are already most vulnerable and marginalised will experience the greatest impacts of climate change.
LGBTQIA+ individuals are especially vulnerable to exclusion because of the social stigma attached. It also makes them vulnerable to discrimination and hatred, besides encountering more violence. In the wake of climate change, marginalised becomes even more vulnerable. When climate disasters occur, they are neglected more than the general population.
As per some media reports, LGBTQ+ youth already makeup around 40 percent of homelessness in the US. Climate change continues to misplace more and more people as natural disasters increase with climate change. Gender-based violence , especially for the trans-community, increases significantly after climate related disasters. One in five LGBTQ+ Americans live in poverty. This poverty rate is guaranteed to increase while facing the effects of climate change.
Why it matters
Marginalisation extends in important ways to disaster preparedness and response. LGBTQ+ communities and individuals are frequently not considered in evacuation and emergency shelter procedures and have a more difficult time safely displacing and finding new housing and employment.
Emergency shelters are rarely able to sufficiently serve LGBTQ+ victims.
What needs to be done
Sensitisation of people and their empathetic behaviour is the only solution to bring members of the LGBTQ+ community back in the fold.
Training workshops on sensitisation as well as awareness, skill or capacity building and action through newsletters, social media, infographics, should be made available in regional languages.
Some of the other proactive measures include creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people to gather during emergency events. This is essential to strengthening broader community institutions. The creation of safe spaces elevates the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in the eyes of the state and relief and recovery programmes, reducing the probability of exclusion.
No one should be left behind
The invisibility of LGBTQ+ persons is a major part of their vulnerability, and much is dependent on context.
An upper-middle class, white, gay male will experience different privileges and challenges in disaster and displacement scenarios than a transgender brown farmer. Understanding how these differences alter individual resilience is a critical component to designing climate policy that ensures that no one is left out or behind.
(Feature and banner image credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/)