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Intro to Sexual Rights




What Are Sexual Rights?

Human rights refer to every person’s freedoms and entitlements to live in dignity. This requires an environment in which all persons can control and decide freely on matters related to their sexuality; are free from violence, coercion or intimidation in their sexual lives; have access to sexual and reproductive health care information, education and services; and are protected from discrimination based on the exercise of their sexuality. These conditions are known as human rights related to sexuality, or simply, sexual rights, and the government of every country in the world is required to respect, protect and fulfill these basic human rights.

Sexual Rights Issues

Human rights related to sexuality address a wide range of issues and often intersect with several other rights. Examples of sexual rights issues include (but are not limited to):

  • Comprehensive sexuality education
  • Criminalization and other restrictions on safe abortion
  • Early and Forced Marriage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Gender-based violence
  • Gender equity
  • Gender identities and expressions
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Maternal morbidity & mortality
  • Reproductive rights
  • Rights of intersex people
  • Rights of sex workers
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexual rights of young people


International Agreements Protecting and Promoting Sexual Rights

Sexual rights resonate profoundly within existing human rights norms and standards including the right to privacy, freedom of thought and expression, freedom from violence, the right to education and information, the right to equality, freedom from all forms of discrimination and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

These rights are set out and endorsed in the following international conventions, treaties and documents:



  • national sexual rights law and policy database

    Law and Policy Database

    The national sexual rights law and policy database is a one-stop-shop for sexual rights related Constitutions, laws and policies.

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  • UPR Toolkit

    UPR Toolkit

    This practical toolkit for sexual rights advocates is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

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  • UPR Database

    UPR Database

    Database of sexual rights recommendations and references at the Universal Periodic Review coming soon!

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  • Coalition of African Lesbians

    Featured Partner

    Since 2003, CAL has worked to ensure the visibility and voice of African lesbian and gender non-conforming individuals.

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