Why are LGBTQ+ people more at risk from climate change?

-Natural disasters caused by climate change can adversely affect LGBTQ+ people already suffering from poverty and discrimination.

LONDON – A new study has highlighted the extent to which LGBTQ+ people can be uniquely affected by #climatechange, underlining the particular and underreported vulnerabilities of a community that also often suffers from #poverty and #discrimination.

The report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that same-sex couples in the United States run a greater risk of being negatively affected by climate change than their heterosexual peers.

Same-sex couples are more likely to live in areas with poor infrastructure and less access to resources, the study said, noting that same-sex couples were also disproportionately located in coastal areas and cities.

The research builds on previous limited data and comes as LGBTQ+ activists around the world urge authorities to include the community in discussions around environmental policies.

Around 3.6 billion people live in areas susceptible to climate change, according to the World Health Organization.

Here’s what you need to know about the specific vulnerabilities of the LGBTQ+ community.

Why are LGBTQ+ people more at risk from climate change?

Multiple studies have shown that climate change exacerbates existing societal inequalities and disproportionately affects marginalised communities, although specific research into the impact on LGBTQ+ lives is limited.

Globally, LGBTQ+ people, who already face legal and societal discrimination in some countries, are at greater risk of being homeless or in poverty, which can make them particularly vulnerable during natural disasters.

In the United States, former discriminatory housing and loan policies pushed LGBTQ+ communities into more under-resourced areas, which lack the infrastructure to deal with high temperatures or flooding, the Williams Institute report said.

It’s a pattern repeated elsewhere.

In Jamaica, LGBTQ+ people face significant discrimination in the housing sector, and homeless LGBTQ+ youths have been known to make their homes in gullies, a report by Equality for All Foundation (EFAF) found in 2021.

LGBTQ+ people have also faced barriers in accessing disaster relief. Activists in the Pacific island of Tonga, which is facing more frequent cyclones, told how emergency shelters are mostly run by religious organisations, whose members might be hostile towards sexual and gender minorities.

In Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake, gay and bisexual men tried to adopt “a more masculine demeanour” to avoid harassment in displacement camps and were turned away from emergency housing and food programmes, said a report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Foundation and SEROvie, an HIV NGO.

When Hurricane Katrina hit southeastern United States in 2005 – before marriage equality was introduced in all states in 2015 – there were reports of LGBTQ+ couples being separated and struggling to apply for aid as relief efforts did not recognise same-sex households as families.

In some countries, trans communities also struggle to access aid relief as they often don’t have legal documentation, due to leaving home at a young age.

Where are LGBTQ+ people most affected?

Countries in the global south are already experiencing some of the worst effects of the extreme weather caused by climate change – and many don’t have a positive record on LGBTQ+ rights.

Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chad, and Nigeria, all of which criminalise same-sex activity, are among the worst-hit nations.

Small Island Developing States, including nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific, are at risk from rising seas and have also seen an increase in extreme weather, like hurricanes.

Several Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis, have moved to decriminalise same-sex relations, but they are still criminalised in five nations.

Climate disasters have also put LGBTQ+ people at an increased risk of abuse in countries including Israel, the United States, Malaysia and New Zealand, where religious leaders have sometimes blamed the community for events like earthquakes and hurricanes.

How can communities be protected?

Activists and organisations have called for LGBTQ+ people to be included in the drafting of climate policy and asked for more research into the impacts of natural disasters and further training to reduce stigma and discrimination in aid operations.

They also want sexual orientation and gender identity to be explicitly protected against discrimination in disaster risk management frameworks, while legal protections – such as marriage equality laws – will help families feel protected in the event of disaster.

“LGBTQ+ people are almost entirely absent in climate change policies,” Jason Ball from GiveOut, a global LGBTQ+ rights organisation with a climate-specific initiative, told Context.

“Intersectional approaches need to be embedded into climate justice work. Climate resilience tends to be about developing drought-resistant crops and sea walls; it doesn’t always recognise the social vulnerabilities of certain communities.” – Context

Source: https://www.eco-business.com/news/why-are-lgbtq-people-more-at-risk-from-climate-change

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