Sexual Rights are Human Rights: But How Can We Convince the United Nations?

  • Kate Sheill
Volume 37 Number 5
Published: October 1, 2006
In 1995, sexual rights were articulated in the Beijing Platform for Action. Now, however, principles agreed many years ago are being deemed too radical to be cited in new texts. In the face of these rollbacks, and at a time when activists are being silenced by funding restrictions, what possibility is there of progress? Drawing on examples from the Commission on Human Rights, the 49th Commission on the Status of Women (Beijing Plus Ten) and the Commission on Population and Development, this article examines the obstacles to progress, the challenges to and of maintaining the status quo and the opportunities we must seize if we are to realise the potential of sexual rights. We must not lose the hard-won gains from the International Conference on Population and Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women and other fora. However neither can we stop there. Having spent so long on the defensive, we now need to move beyond a focus solely on negative, protectionist models and find ways to progress understanding and realisation of sexual rights. We need to build a new culture of sexuality that allows individuals to act with autonomy and take responsibility for their actions, and that promotes mutual respect as well as individual choice, expression and pleasure


  • Gender
  • Sexuality
From Issue: Vol. 37 No. 5 (2006) | Sexuality Matters