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Status: Published

Sexuality and human rights - Discussion Paper (2009)

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Introduction

sexualityIn early 2008, the Council decided to begin work on the subject of sexuality and human rights. The theme is both vast and controversial, and the Council’s initial aim is to clarify the essential elements of a policy discussion of sexuality and sexual rights from a human rights perspective, and by doing so perhaps enable discussion to progress.

On the basis of preliminary research, it became clear that a number of conceptual challenges need to be addressed. The Council therefore commissioned a paper from Alice M. Miller, a leading academic in the field. The Council asked her to examine the content of sexual rights, the evolution of their discussion, and problematic issues that need further consideration, in order to assist the Council to identify the focus of its project on sexuality.

The paper sets out many of the questions, conflicts and dilemmas that mark this subject and impede discussions of sexuality and sexual rights. It frames the issue in ways that we feel will be useful and fresh for activists, policy-makers and human rights practitioners. We hope its publication will help those working in the field of sexuality to measure the potential relevance of human rights, and help human rights advocates to look more inclusively and more deeply into the subject of sexuality.

We describe this as a “Discussion Paper”, because it departs from the models of consultative research that have characterised the International Council’s work. It is the first in a series that we will publish from time to time.

The Council convened a meeting of experts and academics in Geneva on 6 and 7 July 2009 to assess the findings of the discussion paper. The Council will utilise the opinions and advice gained from the meeting to develop a project design for a more extensive project on sexuality.

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