Sexual Rights at the 27th UN Universal Periodic Review

Published on May 17, 2017

The 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva from 1-12 May 2017. Eleven countries were reviewed during UPR27: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands, and South Africa.

The Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) collaborated with national NGOs in six of the countries reviewed to prepare six stakeholder submissions and advocate for strong recommendations on sexual and reproductive rights. They include:


Adoption of UPR Outcomes: September 2017

The UPR outcome for each State reviewed during UPR27 will be adopted at the 35th session of the HRC (September 2017). The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State agrees to implement, and its responses to other recommendations. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The SRI, in collaboration with partners and allies, will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.

The intervening period is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with States on accepting relevant recommendations – and, at the same time, not accepting those recommendations that are inconsistent with human rights norms and standards. It is also a means for gaining the support of media and the general public.

Below are some highlights from each UPR27 review. Click here for the full list of recommendations made related to sexual rights, including State responses to date.

Click here for the full list of UPR27 Sexual Rights Recommendations



Deferred Recommendations

  • Strengthen health policies and programmes with a view to reducing preventable maternal mortality and morbidity (Botswana)
  • Repeal Article 326 of the Penal Code, which allows perpetrators of rape of minors to escape justice marrying their victims, and amend the
  • Family Code in order to grant women the same status and legal capacity as men (Canada)
  • Modify the regulations of the Family Code which are discriminatory against girls and women, regarding guardianship of minors, inheritance, divorce, polygamy and rejection (Paraguay)
  • Ensure the respect for the rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTIQ persons, by repealing the norms that criminalise and stigmatise them (Argentina)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Finalise the draft law amending certain provisions of the 1963 Citizenship Act to enable Bahraini women married to non-Bahraini men to confer their nationality on their children without any conditions (Botswana)
  • Further its work in empowering women, promoting gender equality and eliminating discrimination and violence against women and children by, inter alia, amending and promulgating relevant laws and implementing the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women (Thailand)
  • Adopt holistic plans and policies to achieve gender equality in public and private spheres and further recommends that specific measures be taken to increase women participation at all levels and promote women appointment in leadership positions (Chile)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Approve a specific legislation, in line with its international human rights obligations, that prohibits discrimination and incitement to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Honduras)
  • Improve facilities dedicated to pregnancy and maternity in prisons, in line with the “Bangkok Rules” (Thailand)
  • Ensure access to reproductive health care, including high quality prenatal care, and information on sexual and reproductive health, contraception and emergency contraception, and safe abortion to all women without discrimination (Switzerland)
  • Strengthen the capacity of police in cases of violence against women by expanding training and developing protocols to respond to cases effectively (Canada)



Accepted Recommendations

  • Investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for acts of violence against lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersexual persons as part of its efforts to combat stereotypes and bias against them (Argentina)
  • Continue to strengthen measures to deal with teenage pregnancies, by promoting access to reproductive health services for all, including sexual and reproductive health education, as well as counselling services and health care adapted to the young people, in accordance with the commitments in the Montevideo Consensus (Uruguay)

Noted Recommendations

  • Repeal laws criminalising abortion in cases of rape, incest and severe foetal impairment and eliminate all punitive measures (Iceland)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Amend the Criminal Code to no longer define rape according to the degree of violence used by the perpetrator but rather on the lack of consent of the victim (Portugal)
  • Eliminate, in the case of transsexuals, the requirement of sterilization, medical treatments and mental health diagnoses, in order to complete the process of legal recognition of gender identity (Mexico)
  • Establish a specific action plan to combat gender-based violence with a special system of prevention for this type of violence and also broaden the network of assistance for victims of sexual violence or gender-based violence (Spain)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Criminalize of all forms of sexual abuse of girls under 18 years of age, including marital rape and “honour crimes” (Zambia)
  • Repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes same-sex conduct between consenting adults and enact legislation consistent with the Supreme Court’s recognition of the rights of transgender persons (Canada)
  • Continue furthering the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women, by immediately putting an end to camp-based sterilization operations in accordance with the Supreme Court order of 14 September 2016, by ensuring all women access to counselling on and access to the full range of modern contraceptives in a voluntary, safe, and quality manner, and by providing comprehensive sexuality education (Finland)
  • Adopt legislative measures and policies to prevent early or forced marriages (Honduras)



Accepted Recommendations

  • Adopt legislative and policy measures to ensure women and adolescents access to sexual education and free and friendly reproductive health services (Honduras)

Deferred Recommendations

  • Guarantee access to contraception irrespective of the marital status and repeal all laws which restrict women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health information (Slovenia)
  • Repeal or revise legislation, notably the relevant provisions of the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code, which criminalizes sexual relations among consenting adults of the same sex, as well as legislation, which discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (Iceland)
  • Adopt all necessary measures to ensure that the persistent practice of female genital mutilation stops, through the criminalization of such practice and awareness campaigns (Uruguay)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Decriminalize consensual sexual relations, including by repealing penal code provisions in the Articles 489 to 493, prohibiting same-sex sexual relations, sexual relations outside marriage as well as adultery (Netherlands)
  • Increase access to health services in its rural areas, in particular to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity (Republic of Korea)
  • Review all laws and practices that discriminate on the basis of gender and bring them in line with international law and standards and to take steps to further improve the protection of women who are subject to violence, including through amending the Penal Code to ensure the criminalization of marital rape (Sweden)
  • Adjust the new abortion law protocol to give women the right to abort in case of incest and rape based on the police report only (Slovenia)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Integrate human rights education into the national school curriculum, provide sufficient resources to human rights education and training of teachers and ensure that they receive training in topics such as sexual diversity, sexual rights, resilience, gender equality and consent (Slovenia)
  • Increase the efforts aimed at combatting intersectional discrimination against women and girls based on their belonging to ethnic minority groups or on gender (Paraguay)
  • Guarantee access to legal gender recognition for both intersex and transgender people of all ages, without legal, administrative or financial barriers (Israel)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Consolidate its recent progress through implementation of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation covering sex and sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status (Australia)
  • Ensure that Executive Order No. 12 pertaining to the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act is fully implemented in order to meet the needs for modern family planning and to secure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (Sweden)
  • Take immediate steps to permit abortion in cases where a woman’s or a girl’s life or physical or mental health is in danger; where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest; and in cases of foetal impairment, with a view to decriminalizing abortion in the near future (Netherlands)



Deferred Recommendations

  • Amend the Act on Equal Treatment in order to prohibit discrimination, in a comprehensive manner, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in all areas and sectors, in particular, taking into account access to education, health, social protection and housing (Mexico)
  • Expand the scope of the compulsory course on family life education, to provide a comprehensive and age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights and to ensure unimpeded access to sexual and reproductive health services, including to safe and legal abortions (Slovenia)
  • Strengthen the elimination of all forms of violence against women by criminalizing domestic violence and marital rape (Belgium)
  • Ensure that women are provided the necessary medical and professional service to exercise their legal right to termination of pregnancy, and ascertain that women have the right to decide over their own bodies (Sweden)


South Africa

Deferred Recommendations

  • Develop policies, plans and information campaigns to eradicate at all levels the stereotypes and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, focused particularly on public officials and those in charge of law enforcement (Chile)
  • Ensure comprehensive sexuality education in school curriculum including on consent, contraception and gender-based violence (Denmark)
  • Work to eradicate harmful cultural or traditional practices against women and girls by conducting educational campaigns, encouraging reporting of cases and publically denouncing such practices; through urgently providing an adequate budget for the implementation of key measures of the Domestic Violence Act; and through strengthening the systematic and comprehensive collection of disaggregated data related to the incidence of all forms of violence against women, including femicide and intimate partner violence, and to use this data to inform its policy responses and monitoring (Ireland)
  • Harmonise the South African legislation to ensure that the minimum age for marriage was established at 18 years for both boys and girls (Zambia)



Accepted Recommendations

  • Ensure broad access to health services, including reproductive health services, especially to young people (Luxembourg)
  • Intensify the offer to provide services for family planning in view of reducing significantly maternal mortality that remains high especially in rural areas (Burkina Faso)
  • Amend the penal code to explicitly criminalize marital rape, to abolish provisions allowing a perpetrator of sexual violence to escape prosecution by marrying the victim (Penal Code Article 227bis) (Germany)
  • Repeal Articles 236 and 230 of the Penal Code to put an end to the criminalization of adultery and same-sex relationships, as well as to methods of collecting evidence that constitute a violation of the dignity and physical integrity of persons (France)


United Kingdom

Deferred Recommendations

  • Review its Equality Act in relation to gender identity and the rights of intersex persons in the context of rights to health services (Finland)
  • Ensure that the law governing access to abortion in Northern Ireland fully complies with international human rights law, by decriminalizing abortion and ensuring access to abortion in cases of severe and fatal foetal anomalies and where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest (Sweden)
  • Encourage the devolved government of Northern Ireland to align its legal framework on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and its reproductive health services with the rest of the United Kingdom


Click here for the full list of UPR27 Sexual Rights Recommendations


SRI Toolkit advocates



Read the SRI & IPPF

UPR Toolkit for Sexual Rights Advocates

Available in
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish & Arabic.






National Sexual Rights Database



The National Sexual Rights Law and Policy Database documents and compares the status of law and policy related to sexual rights issues in different countries around the world.

Click here to access the database




more info about the UPR

The UPR mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council is used to review each of the 193 Member States of the UN on its entire human rights record every four and a half years. The Sexual Rights Initiative has launched a Universal Periodic Review (URP) Sexual Rights database that records all information from the UPR related to sexual rights. To gain access to the Database, please send an email to [email protected] containing the following information: your name, the name of your organization (if any), your email address, the name and email address of a reference (either an SRI partner, or known to one).