Where Climate and queerness Intersect; Human Rights.
In the contemporary societal disposition of capitalistic states, markets and way of life, there has been an emergence of climatic changes; changes that have moved against the nuance of what was twenty to thirty years ago. A time when global issues were not interconnected; advocacy and activism mainstreams were mainly marching and press conferences on business districts. Then, with the emergence of open borders and global revolutions; Berlin Wall in Germany, Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia- the precedence of multiculturalism began. The world became a global village trading, education, health care have become sort after in various parts of the world; companies and governments around the globe have initiated globalisation, therefore, the birth of interculturalism. As global issues have emerged; infrastructure, health, governance – interweb of the effects of the challenges in them have followed suit. The term intersectionality was a neologistic expression by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It refers to as a caste system to how marginalised groups (especially black women in America) endure discrimination upon (Coaston, 2020). Today, the effects of industrialisation are being felt by every individual, every city and every country – these effects are termed as climate change, the greenhouse effect or global warming. The alteration in the ecosystem has affected people lives, most precisely minority groups; indigenous groups in the Amazon are forced to flee their ancestral home (reservations). Mainly, as a result of the forest’s burn and by agribusiness companies wanting to establish ranches at the lung of the Earth (Hirsh, 2020). In Africa, pastoralist communities, especially in Chad, have to find new ways of life away from the nomadic ancestral customs. The leading cause is the reduction in rainfall, drought and desertification. The Sengwer community in Kenya have been displaced by the Kenya Forest Service in a move to ‘protect and conserve’ forest cover (Minority Rights Group, 2020).
According to Green Matters, deforestation and natural resources mismanagement extend much more than trees cut or oceanic levels rising; it’s about the people to whom the violence of destruction of reservations affects – a human rights violation (Hirsh, 2020).
The term culminates from the view of global warming conditions through a human rights lens: According to Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former president, there should be an emphasis on the melting caps, but more so on civil rights effect it has on vulnerable communities ((United Nations Sustainable Development, 2020)).
“Climate change is happening now and to all of us…..And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.” – Antonio Guterres.
United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres explained that climate change catalyses inequality. It cuts through social and environmental issues, the way we treat nature, is the way it will treat us. The current technology advancements, social and ecological disruptions in the ecosystem have ignored both moral and ethical considerations for how to conserve the environment.
According to the Mary Robinson Foundation, the principles of climate justice are;
- The right to shared burdens and benefits equally – the majority of states with mass amounts of greenhouse emissions must be responsible for cutting down on it, or the enactment of the Carbon Tax (Principles of Climate Justice, 2020).
- Make use of Partnerships to Secure Climate Justice – an indication of the needed coalition and corporation among states civil societies, sharing resources, especially amongst those affected – they know the extents of climate change (Principles of Climate Justice, 2020).
- Transformative education – one that inculcates into the awareness of human rights, is radical and teaches people how to thrive, survive and increase consciousness on the need for conservation (Principles of Climate Justice, 2020).
- Participatory, Accountable and Transparent decision making – there is a need for an open, accountable, corruption-free and fair process. Vulnerable communities need to be heard (Principles of Climate Justice, 2020).
- Gender Equality and Equity – decision making needs to be inclusive of women to be at the table in conservation politics. Women are at the forefront of the realities of injustice, and climate change is the tip of the iceberg for this gender group (Principles of Climate Justice, 2020).
Consequently, climate justice speaks into the appropriation of rights and protection of the environment and humanity plus the recognition of gender inclusivity in decision making, for added contribution to conservation. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2: Freedom from Discrimination – it calls for the rights and freedoms of all races, genders, political and other opinions to enjoy their rights and freedoms. However, the LGBTQIA community remain regarded as the class of different statuses; hence, no distinct recognition and protection (Un.org, 2020).
In application, it comes down to the promotion of the mental and physical safety of queer youth, fighting discriminatory laws that exclude LGBTQIA communities; more so in the denial of basic needs rights, marginalisation and discrimination (Autostraddle, 2020). For sexual orientation and gender identity persons, also termed as gender non-conforming people; Justice is the understanding their humanity. The humanity that rids living without misconceptions around their lives (UUA.org, 2020);
- Using valid labels; respecting queerness as a respectful name.
- Not living by assumptions; asking questions to give honour to the fluidity associated with the various labels; being mindful of queerness literature.
- Use gender-inclusive terms that encompass all genders, including non-binary.
Climate justice speaks into the appropriation of rights and protection of the environment and humanity plus the recognition of gender inclusivity in decision making, for added contribution to conservation. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2: Freedom from Discrimination – it calls for the rights and freedoms of all races, genders, political and other opinions to enjoy their rights and freedoms. However, the LGBTQIA community are regarded as the class of different statuses; hence, no distinct recognition and protection (Un.org, 2020).
The intersections in environmental and social politics.
The intersections in environmental and societal politics are vital for LGBTQIA+ persons to understand their problems might also be applied to certain marginalised groups too. Through capturing the elements of social Justice; social action and raising awareness, much more precedence is to be given to finding solutions to both environmental and social problems to solve climate change and rid homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
Through the queer geography concept, unjust geographies exist; according to Kian Goh, urban politics awards heteronormative the hierarchy and domination over urban spaces. For queer groups, these environments tend to be marginalised and have spatial differences (Goh, 2017). The extensions go into governments where key decision-makers are made up of homophobes, transphobes and biphobes; contributing to the spatial contentions.
Nonetheless, a nuanced concept to deciphering the socio-environmental woes is through the adoption of queer ecology; according to the New York University Press – a constellation practices that are meant to disrupt heterosexual institutional proclamations of sexuality and nature (Keywords.nyupress.org, 2020). Through the adaptations and combinations of mainly environmental Justice and queer ecology; ecofeminism and feminist science studies (Keywords.nyupress.org, 2020). LGBTQIA+ non-profits are claiming solutions in this intersection by combining social and environmental actions into their missions.
Out For Sustainability stands by this notion, as they identify with the concept of; identity, environment and society (Out4s.org, 2020). The not-to-profit organisation aims to educate the LGBTQIA+ community that climatic problem extends to their lives as a minority group. Through organising clean up during Pride Month dubbed Plastic Fee Pride and #QREADY is a checklist for the LGBTQIA+ community to prepare for natural disasters (Out4s.org, 2020).
The marginalised groups globally are usually the; poor, queer and indigenous. They experience vulnerabilities extending to; social, cultural, economic and environmental – they have no dignity awarded to them together with equal and inalienable rights.
Marginalised understand marginalised
The intersections in environmental and societal politics are vital for LGBTQIA+ persons to understand their problems might also be applied to certain marginalised groups too. Through capturing the elements of social Justice; social action and raising awareness, much more precedence is to be given to finding solutions to both environmental and social problems to solve climate change and homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
Autostraddle. (2020). Queer Justice Means More Than Gay White Men Having Public Boyfriends. [online] Available at: https://www.autostraddle.com/queer-justice-means-more-than-gay-white-men-having-public-boyfriends-202325/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].
Climate change further reinforces inequalities and disproportionately affects minorities and indigenous peoples, according to MRG’s annual trends report – Minority Rights Group. Minority Rights Group. (2020). Retrieved 26 February 2020, from https://minorityrights.org/2019/06/27/climate-change-further-reinforces-inequalities-and-disproportionately-affects-minorities-and-indigenous-peoples-according-to-mrgs-annual-trends-report/.
Climate Justice – United Nations Sustainable Development. United Nations Sustainable Development. (2020). Retrieved 26 February 2020, from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/climate-justice/.
Coaston, J. (2020). The intersectionality wars. Vox. Retrieved 26 February 2020, from https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/5/20/18542843/intersectionality-conservatism-law-race-gender-discrimination.
Global Justice Ecology Project. (2020). Climate Justice. [online] Available at: https://globaljusticeecology.org/climate-justice/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].
Goh, K. (2017). Safe Cities and Queer Spaces: The Urban Politics of Radical LGBT Activism. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(2), pp.463-477.
Hirsh, S. (2020). The Amazon Fires Are Destroying Indigenous People’s Homes — We Interviewed an Amazon Watch Director to Learn More. Green Matters. Retrieved 26 February 2020, from https://www.greenmatters.com/p/amazon-rainforest-fires-indigenous-tribes.
Keywords.nyupress.org. (2020). Queer Ecology | Keywords for Environmental Studies. [online] Available at: https://keywords.nyupress.org/environmental-studies/essay/queer-ecology/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].
Out4s.org. (2020). OUT for Sustainability – PURPOSE. [online] Available at: https://out4s.org/purpose/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].
Principles of Climate Justice. (2020). [ebook] p.3. Available at: https://www.mrfcj.org/pdf/Principles-of-Climate-Justice.pdf [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].
Un.org. (2020). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [online] Available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].