Beyond rainbows

Why LGBTQ+ rights and sustainability are intertwined.

As usual, social media was agog with celebration this past June as the global population commemorated Pride Month. Notable individuals and organisations showed their support, each vying to appear more progressive and accepting. Beneath these gestures lies a significant question: “If talk is cheap, how much is yours worth? And how sustainable is your goodwill towards the LGBTQ+ community?”

At this juncture, you might ask, “What does LGBTQ+ have to do with sustainability?”

The connection between LGBTQ+ rights and environmental justice is often overlooked, but it is a critical intersection that deserves our attention.

Intersecting challenges

LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those who are people of colour and transgender, face multiple forms of discrimination that compound their challenges. This includes barriers in accessing healthcare, employment, housing, and education. These disparities extend to environmental inequalities, where LGBTQ+ communities are disproportionately affected by pollution, resource depletion, and climate change impacts.

Bearing the brunt

Environmental injustices disproportionately impact marginalised communities, including the LGBTQ+ population. Studies have found that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to live in areas with higher levels of pollution and toxic waste sites. In the same vein, transgender individuals often face difficulties accessing safe and gender-affirming spaces during natural disasters or climate-related events.

Importance of inclusivity

Taking an inclusive approach to sustainability means recognising and addressing the unique experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. This involves creating safe spaces within environmental organisations, advocating for policies that protect LGBTQ+ rights alongside environmental policies, and integrating intersectionality into sustainability efforts.

A walk down memory lane

LGBTQ+ movements have not only fought for their own rights but have also played significant roles in broader social justice struggles, including environmental activism. These movements recognise the interconnectedness of various forms of discrimination and oppression, understanding that the fight for equality and justice cannot be limited to one specific area.

One notable figure who exemplifies this intersectionality is Harvey Milk. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, Milk used his platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights while also bridging the gap between LGBTQ+ advocacy and environmental protection efforts. He understood that the fight against discrimination extended beyond just sexual orientation and gender identity. Milk recognised that environmental issues disproportionately affect marginalised communities, including the LGBTQ+ community. He once said, “I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.” This quote reflects his belief that hope and progress are essential for both LGBTQ+ rights and environmental justice.

By highlighting the connections between LGBTQ+ rights and sustainability, Milk helped pave the way for future activists to see the symbiotic relationship between these two causes. His work demonstrated that social change requires collaboration and solidarity across different movements.

Question: What’s lacking?
Short Answer: Genuine inclusivity through and through.

No surface-level support, no just-another-box-checked. What’s needed is a deep, authentic, and comprehensive commitment to creating equitable and welcoming environments for all. A show of support for the LGBTQ+ community should equal actionable measures to strengthen the sustainability ecosystem.

Current efforts and leadership


Thankfully, there are organisations already leading the charge in integrating LGBTQ+ rights and sustainability and are worth mentioning:

OUT for Sustainability (OUT4S): A key player in promoting sustainability within the LGBTQ+ community through community building and education. The Qready programme is another inspiring example, combining LGBTQ+ empowerment with sustainable actions. Its forward-thinking approach highlights the importance of including diverse perspectives to build a stronger and fairer future for everyone.

Queer Climate Justice: This initiative addresses environmental issues with innovative solutions, showcasing the proactive approach of LGBTQ+ communities in tackling climate challenges.

And bringing it back home to Malta, there is the Moviment Graffitti: While not specifically an LGBTQ+ organisation, its activities include rectifying human rights violations and advocating for environmental sustainability in Malta.

Moving forward


The connection between LGBTQ+ rights and environmental sustainability is not immediately obvious, but upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the two are deeply intertwined. As we strive for progress in both areas, it is important to recognise the symbiotic relationship between human rights and sustainability. The connection between both is brought to life through successful collaborations and intersectional unity. These initiatives emphasise the importance of addressing intersectional issues when developing climate resilience strategies. By recognising and addressing the specific vulnerabilities faced by marginalised communities, including the LGBTQ+ population, we can build more effective and equitable resilience strategies that protect all members of society.

It’s time to move from awareness to action. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community should go beyond wearing rainbow regalia to actively participating in sustainability efforts. This is how we can work towards a future that is not only environmentally friendly but also inclusive and equitable.

Sustainability is not just about saving the planet; it is about saving the people too.

Janie Ogeah is Senoir Communications & Marketing Manager at GSE Technologies.

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