Why Climate Change is an LGBTQI Issue

April 22, 2022


minute read
Rupert Abbott
Executive Director, GiveOut

Over the past year, the urgency of the climate crisis has become increasingly apparent, with successive natural disasters and COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference) pushing individuals, civil society, businesses and governments to make tackling climate change a priority.

As we mark Earth Day, like many, I have been thinking more seriously about the climate crisis and what I can do individually and together with others to make a difference.

This is also an exciting milestone for GiveOut, the community foundation that I lead, as it marks one year since we launched a world-first LGBTQI Climate Fund to resource LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex) activists and organisations working in the Global South and East to help tackle the climate crisis.

So, what’s the connection between LGBTQI rights and climate change?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown on a global scale that LGBTQI people are disproportionately affected in crisis situations. But the pandemic may prove to be a dress rehearsal for the greatest challenge of our time: the climate emergency.

Research by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that people who are marginalised – including those facing discrimination – are especially vulnerable to climate change.

As Emme Kristi, a Consultant on Climate Justice with GiveOut’s grant partner J-FLAG Jamaica explains: “Climate change continues to highlight and widen disparities within society with poor people, indigenous and minority groups bearing a disproportionate burden of the impacts. LGBTQI persons, globally, have been marginalised and continue to be excluded from discourse around climate change impacts on vulnerable populations.”

GiveOut projects that LGBTQI communities will be among the most vulnerable to the direct impacts of climate change. This will be the case especially for LGBTQI people in countries that are most threatened by climate change and where LGBTQI identities are also illegal or repressed.

Philanthropic knowledge and funding at this intersection remains very limited, which is why GiveOut is seeking to collaborate with other funders to build knowledge and create co-funding opportunities

Rupert Abbott
Executive Director, GiveOut

In response to these challenges, LGBTQI organisations around the world are already:

  • undertaking research into the impact of the climate crisis on LGBTQI communities to build the evidence base
  • advocating for the needs of LGBTQI people in emergency situations
  • engaging with governments, international bodies, businesses, and others around responses to climate change to ensure that our communities are not left behind.
A group of climate activists in Tonga
Tonga Leitis Association, who are working on climate justice in the Pacific

But they need our support. Philanthropic knowledge and funding at this intersection remains very limited, which is why GiveOut is now seeking to collaborate with other funders to build knowledge and create co-funding opportunities.

Through building new partnerships with funders, alongside our existing work with individuals and businesses, we aim to increase the funding going towards this pioneering work, ensuring that LGBTQI activists have more of the resources they need to support their communities in the face of this crisis.

I am really proud that GiveOut launched this ground-breaking initiative, and proud of the insights we have gained over the past year. With half-a-century of experience and success, the LGBTQI movement has much to contribute to the climate movement.

Rupert Abbott is the Executive Director of GiveOut, the  award-winning international LGBTQI community foundation. He is a member of the Supervisory Board of Climate Counsel and chairs the Advisory Board of the Future Forum think tank. 

Get involved

To find out how you can get involved in the LGBTQI Climate Fund, visit its collaboration opportunity page on the Hub.

Find out more