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Estado: Publicado

Sexuality, health and human rights: A knowledge-resource of jurisprudence and law (2012)



Sexual Health in European RegionThe relationship of sexuality and sexual health to human rights, and indeed the very concept of sexual rights, are matters of considerable controversy. A number of recent interventions and developments, positive and negative, at national and international levels have flagged this issue as one of the key battlegrounds on human rights territory. Homosexuality is still sanctioned in many regions of the world; HIV transmission is increasingly subject to criminal measures; adultery (especially by women) is punished by lengthy jail terms in numerous countries; and there are a bewildering array of legal and judicial responses to issues such as statutory rape, sex trafficking and sex work. There remain considerable challenges and confusions regarding recognition of rights claims related to sexuality and the obligations of states underlying all of these subjects.

In collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), this project aims to foster the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights related to sexuality and sexual health by mapping and consolidating existing laws, policies and jurisprudence around the world on the subject. Addressing a specific need in this area, it will create a knowledge resource base for the actors working on sexuality and human rights policy, covering topics such as discrimination, violence, gender identity, sex education, same sex relations, health services, regulation of marriage and sex work.


  • A better understanding of how human rights standards relate to sexuality by expanding access to law and jurisprudence on this topic through information-sharing mechanisms like a case portal

  • Normative guidance for policy-makers and jurists towards effective responses to rights claims related to sexuality

  • Strengthening human rights positions against criminalisation of sexual activity through an informative and useful comparative guide to laws, policies and jurisprudence in this area

  • Identifying gaps and challenges within and across international, regional and national standards with regard to the protection of human rights related to sexuality and sexual health.

  • More effective adjudication and litigation strategies

  • Norm setting through wider understanding and dissemination of the links and content of human rights related to sexuality to facilitate better protection of these rights

  • Greater recognition, understanding and application of human rights standards related to sexuality and sexual health.

Sexuality and sexual health groups; Lawyers and other legal advocates; Judges; Legal scholars and students; Health groups, including international commissions and organisations such asUNAIDS or the Global Commission on HIV & the Law.

Processes and Outputs
Since 2008, the ICHRP has been working with the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) of the WHOon this topic. The RHR-WHO began a global research initiative mapping out existing human rights standards regarding sexuality as they have been developed under international, regional and national laws and jurisprudence. This led to the generation of research on relevant international, regional and country-specific human rights and legal instruments, as well as jurisprudence produced by international and regional human rights bodies and high-level national courts. The analysis was undertaken in each of the WHO regions: Europe, the United States and Canada; Latin American and the Caribbean; the Middle East and North Africa; Africa; the Western Pacific; and South-East Asia.

In 2012, the ICHRP published an updated, edited version of the European regional paper. The report is available in full below, and is accompanied by Appendices and Case summaries. The report’s chapters (available individually by clicking on the following links), cover: 1) non-discrimination; 2) penalization of sexual activities; 3) state regulation of marriage and family; 4) gender identity and intersex; 5) violence; 6) access to health services; 7) education, information and expression; and 8) sex work.

This project builds on the 2009 publication of the ICHRP Discussion Paper on Sexuality and Human Rights, which mapped the confusions and dilemmas in the area of sexual rights and suggested principles to guide future work. Our proven ability to form partnerships with international and regional organisations working in different areas and disciplines will also be invaluable to the dissemination of this information and analysis in the most full and impactful way possible. Such partnerships will allow us to tap into the regional research undertaken by the WHO experts, providing a unique survey of law and jurisprudence relating to sexuality from around the world.

Related projects completed
Sexuality (2009)

Equipo de investigación