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The BirdLife Flock Marks Pride Month 

The BirdLife flock reflects on why Pride Month is important to them and on how we are all working towards making the BirdLife Partnership an inclusive space.  

Every June people around the world celebrate Pride Month and remember the turning point that was the Stonewall riots. Also known as the Stonewall uprising, the demonstrations in 1969 in New York City became a defining moment in history and a turning point for LGBTQIA+ rights.  

For BirdLife, Pride Month underscores the vital connection between diversity, inclusivity, and our global conservation efforts. It serves as a reminder of our commitment to fostering an environment where all individuals, regardless of background or identity, feel valued and empowered. This inclusive ethos not only guides our work locally but also strengthens our collaborative efforts on a global scale, ensuring that diverse perspectives contribute to the protection of birds and their habitats worldwide. Here is what the BirdLife flock had to say for Pride Month:

“BirdLife celebrates and revels in diversity.  We are at our best when everyone contributes, regardless of sexuality or identity, and we continue to strive for a working environment where everyone can be themselves.” – Martin Harper, Chief Executive Officer at BirdLife International

“The BirdLife family spreads across a diverse range of countries with amazing biodiversity as well as a unique social situation ranging from welcoming to hostile. The safe, loving and supportive space that BirdLife provides for everyone to be themselves no matter what the outside world thinks is so important for all of us and the work we do. Long live the rainbow flock of BirdLife!” – Lahiru Wijedasa, Asia Forests Programme Coordinator at BirdLife International

Some national partners of BirdLife Europe and Central Asia are making efforts to become more inclusive towards LGBTQIA+ groups that are part of the “birding” community: Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN) organised a field trip in the most biodiverse park in Amsterdam last June for the Amsterdam Queer Bird Club; sharing binoculars and social media posts was a nice way of enjoying the common enthusiasm for birds.

“It’s not yet a collaboration. We still have work to do at VBN to become really inclusive! But the intention of making the collaboration with the Amsterdam Queer Bird Club more serious is definitely there.” – Arjan Berben, Head of the media team at Vogelbescherming Nederland

“Protecting and conserving nature must be an intersectional effort, rooted in embracing diversity. This includes diversity in culture, beliefs, gender, politics, and sexual orientation. Such diversity should be deeply integrated and valued in our approaches to safeguarding the wellbeing of both nature and people. As the largest nature partnership, BirdLife must prioritise and celebrate its inherent diversity.

Observing Pride Month is a vital way to honour and support community members who seek the freedom to live authentically. True freedom is inclusive, extending to all people and the natural world. Our duty is to defend this diversity and leverage our privilege to advocate for those who lack equal freedoms. Pride goes beyond celebration; it is a powerful reminder of our ongoing fight to value diversity and protect an inclusive and effective environment.” – Lucia Rodriguez, Flyways Conservation Manager at BirdLife International

“At BirdLife we are committed to creating an inclusive working environment, where diversity is not only respected, but it is truly celebrated. We each of us have a responsibility to play our part in shaping a culture where everyone feels able to be their true and best selves, whether that is through listening to perspectives and experiences that are different to our own, becoming more aware of our own unconscious bias, or challenging behaviours that are not aligned to BirdLife’s core values. In doing so, we will become stronger together.” – Laura Formoy, HR Director at BirdLife International

“It can be all too easy during the colourful celebration of Pride month to forget its cardinal values of acceptance, equality and solidarity. Across the BirdLife family, there remain 28 Partners (>20%) based in countries where same-sex acts remain a criminal offence (including in several where this is punishable by life imprisonment). This is a time for promoting our values as a Partnership and expressing our solidarity with all our friends and colleagues across the world who remain unable to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises as their out and proud selves.” – Alex Berryman, Red List Officer at BirdLife International

Celebrating pride is not just about inclusion, it’s also about recognising the power of diversity. When we embrace every voice, we tap into a richer range of perspectives and ideas. Ensuring an inclusive environment in organisations like BirdLife means that our mission to protect the planet is as vibrant, resilient and interconnected as the ecosystems we strive to preserve.

Anouk Puymartin, Policy Manger at BirdLife Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife’s affirmation of our diversity is one of the aspects of working here I also, as an older out gay man since the age of 18, treasure. I am well aware of my gender, racial and economic privilege, and still acutely aware of how little it protected a scientific luminary like Englishman Alan Turing in his day – and others in our day as well.  So I don’t accept BirdLife’s inclusiveness as a given, unfortunately, but rather embrace, as Alex Berryman once wrote, the fact that complacency is the thief of progress. A glance at the day’s headlines shows how the titanic and ongoing struggle to protect the advances of justice, such as they are, persists. The future we fight to secure for nature and the planet must be one in which justice and equality triumph. 

Christopher Sands, Global Director of Communications at BirdLife International, and Willie
Two Rainbow Lorikeets © Janelle Lugge / Shutterstock