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Have We Left Behind the Rainbow Warriors? The Climate Emergency and Its Impact on Global Queer People and Their Communities

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Gender, Sexuality and the UN's SDGs

Part of the book series: Sustainable Development Goals Series ((SDGS))


SDG Goal 13: Climate Action

(also links to Goal 5, Goal 10, Goal 11 and Goal 16)

The impact of the Climate Emergency disproportionately affects those who are already marginalised across the world. Whilst discussions about ‘environmental racism’ and ecofeminism have brought ethnicity and gender to the foreground of climate change and justice narratives, little has been researched about how the Climate Emergency is impacting the lives of sexual and gender minorities (see LGBTQI+).

It has been evidenced that LGBTQI+ people face discrimination or exclusion from disaster shelters in times of Extreme Weather Events (EWEs) (Friends of the Earth (FOE), Why Climate Change is an LGBTQ+ Issue. [Online], 2020) and are more likely to be at risk of being homeless as the climate alters (ReportOUT, A Crisis of Queer Invisibility: Climate Change as a Risk Multiplier for LGBTQ People. [Online], 2023). In places such as Uganda, LGBTQI+ people are more likely to live in deep levels of poverty, meaning they will lack the capacity to move as the globe warms (Dalton, Weatherston, & Butler, OUT in Uganda: The Lived Experiences of SOGIESC Ugandans. Gateshead: ReportOUT. [Online], 2020). In Jamaica, homeless young LGBTQI+ people have been documented living in underground drains, which risks flooding and death during freak storms (ReportOUT, Queering the sustainable development goals. [Online], 2021). Yet despite this, the Climate Emergency and its impacts on sexual and gender minorities, is still an overlooked and under-researched area.

To tackle the growing Climate Emergency, the United Nations has set out ambitious targets in its Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Goal 13 being ‘Climate Action.’ This promises specific targets, to ‘integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning’ (Target 13.2). This is problematic, as there are still over 70 countries where same-sex intimacy is criminalised (ReportOUT, Queering the sustainable development goals. [Online], 2021) and in some nation states, sexual and gender minorities are either invisible and isolated from power regimes, or actively persecuted by the state.

This chapter examines how the Climate Emergency is affecting sexual and gender minorities in different nation states across the globe. It also highlights the ‘duel burden’ faced by LGBTQI+ people whereby they face heteronormative power structures, state homophobia and isolation from Climate Emergency initiatives and planning. It then concludes with key recommendations of how to include sexual and gender minorities in Climate Emergency planning, to truly fulfil the Agenda 2030 mission statement to ‘leave no-one behind.’

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Correspondence to Drew Dalton .

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Dalton, D. (2023). Have We Left Behind the Rainbow Warriors? The Climate Emergency and Its Impact on Global Queer People and Their Communities. In: Dalton, D., Smith, A. (eds) Gender, Sexuality and the UN's SDGs. Sustainable Development Goals Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-31045-4

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