Climate Change, Political Instability, and the Queers

I imagine many people cannot see a connection between Climate Change and LGBTQ Human Rights. While many queer folks do not deny the reality of Climate Change (even if we cannot yet grasp what a huge issue it is and will be) we have not yet considered the ways that Climate Change may well lead to an erosion of LGBTQ rights. Seems farfetched?

According to a recent UN study, scientists believe that the effects of Global Warming will make the world more violent, particularly in poorer areas of the planet most affected.

With millions of people forced to move each year by rapid-onset climate-related hazards and slow-onset environmental degradation, social wellbeing, human rights, economies and even state stability are at risk…at the highest level, climate change is being assessed as a risk to national security and potentially to global stability.

This makes sense. Fewer resources due to famine, water shortages, and natural disasters along with climate refugees flooding in and out of countries create conditions for strife. What about the LGBTQ people who already experience oppression from their governments and fellow citizens?

In 1984 long before Climate Change was on most people’s radar, Gayle Rubin wrote:

To some, sexuality may seem to be an unimportant topic, a frivolous diversion from the more critical problems of poverty, war, disease, racism, famine, or nuclear annihilation. But it is precisely at times such as these, when we live with the possibility of unthinkable destruction, that people are likely to become dangerously crazy about sexuality.

Besides the erosion of existing rights and the likelihood that we will get scapegoated for climate change  (Haven’t we been blamed enough for severe weather??) we are facing a world where basic needs–food, water, housing–will be threatened in many regions. Marriage equality, hate crime legislation, and workplace protection along with other LGBTQ rights issues are of course important, but if we are not forward thinking and do not recognize the time we are in, these advances may amount to little more than redecorating the Titanic as it sinks into the sea. 

This post has 4 Comments

  1. Jeff Waymack on April 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm Reply

    Climate Change may well lead to an erosion of LGBTQ rights. Seems farfetched?

    Not in the least.

    While some of my belief in that comes from far too many end of the world books (love ’em), many of these books contain examples of how the threads of our humanity are slowly or suddenly stripped away. I’m not sure which layers would be stripped away first and it would probably depend on each person and the group of people they belong to. Our willingness to accept other people who are not like us may be one of those layers that gets stripped away.

    Another aspect that we all live with today is the shrinking part of the pie that contains liberal ideals. When budgets get cut or people become poorer choices have to be made. Climate Change is going to increasingly going to reduce the resources of everyone. Food prices will go up, we may have to start paying for water (not the stuff in bottles), and jobs may be lost as industries dependent certain crops being raised are no longer feasible. As all this may start happening, it will be more difficult for people to choose to support the issues and causes they believe in. My fear is that one of those will be protection of rights for LGBTQ people.

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on April 29, 2014 at 4:01 am Reply

      Thanks, Jeff, for your comments. I agree that there will be a fight over resources, and as a result, we will be forced to choose to fund some critical projects over another. It makes it all the more important that we shore up rights these days so they are harder to take away later. That is why LGBTQ rights and all human rights work is more important now than ever. My hope is that we will begin to connect these various rights groups and issues more and more to create a grand collation that is concerned about rights for women, immigrants, people of color, the poor, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay.

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