Universal sexual human rights
Conference Report of the Fourteenth World
Congress of Sexology
23-27 August 1999, Hong Kong
At the final plenary session,
Professor Eli Coleman, Chairman of WAS announced the eleven basic sexual
rights that they wished us to endorse and enact in our work as clinicians,
educators and researchers. They are listed below and were endorsed by the
conference to much applause:
(1) The right to sexual freedom. Sexual freedom
encompasses the possibility for individuals to express their full sexual
potential. However, this excludes all forms of sexual coercion, exploitation
and abuse at any time and situations in life.
(2) The right to sexual autonomy, sexual integrity,
and safety of the sexual body. This right involves the ability to make
autonomous decisions about one’’s sexual life within a context of ones
own personal and social ethics. It also encompasses control and enjoyment of
our own bodies free from torture, mutilation and violence of any sort.
(3) The right to sexual privacy. This involves
the right for individual decisions and behaviours about intimacy as long as
they do not intrude on the sexual rights of others.
(4) The right to sexual equity. This refers to
freedom from all forms of discrimination regardless of sex, gender, sexual
orientation, age, race, social class, religion, or physical and emotional
(5) The right to sexual pleasure. Sexual
pleasure, including autoeroticism, is a course of physical, psychological,
intellectual and spiritual wellbeing.
(6) The right to emotional sexual expression. Sexual
expression is more than erotic pleasure or sexual acts. Individuals have a
right to express their sexuality through communication, touch, emotional
expression and love.
(7) The right to sexually associate freely. This
means the possibility to marry or not, to divorce, and to establish other
types of responsible sexual associations.
(8) The right to make free and responsible
reproductive choices. This encompasses the right to decide whether or
not to have children, the number and spacing of children, and the right to
full access to the means of fertility regulation.
(9) The right to sexual information based upon
scientific inquiry. This right implies that sexual information should be
generated through the process of unencumbered and yet scientifically ethical
inquiry, and disseminated in appropriate ways at all societal levels.
(10) The right to comprehensive sexuality
education. This is a lifelong process from birth throughout the life
cycle and should involve all social institutions.
(11) The right to sexual health care. Sexual
health care should be available for prevention and treatment of all sexual
concerns, problems and disorders.
Sexual Rights are Fundamental
and Universal Human Rights.
P. D'Ardenne. In: Sexual and
Marital Therapy, Vol. 14, o. 4, 1999