Sexual Rights

Sexual rights address a wide range of issues related to sexuality and gender, and often intersect with several other human rights.
A picture of a person standing up with sexual rights symbols floating around her.


Under international human rights law, all persons have the right to control and decide freely on matters related to their sexuality; to be free from violence, coercion, or intimidation in their sexual lives; to have access to sexual and reproductive health care information, education, and services; and to be protected from discrimination based on the exercise of their sexuality.

These are known as human rights related to sexuality, or simply, sexual rights, and the government of every country in the world is required to respect, protect, and fulfill these basic human rights.

Respect: States must refrain from interfering with or limiting the enjoyment of human rights.

Protect: States must protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses.

Fulfill: States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

The right to sexual and reproductive health, combined with the right to education and the right to non-discrimination and equality between men and women, entails a right to education on sexuality and reproduction that is comprehensive, non-discriminatory, evidence-based, scientifically accurate and age appropriate.

‒ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/GC/22, para. 9)

A picture of a woman happily moving a sign forward with an arrow on it


Sexual rights (human rights related to sexuality) address a wide range of issues and often intersect with several other rights. Examples of sexual rights issues include (but are not limited to):

  • Comprehensive sexuality education
  • Criminalization and other restrictions on safe abortion
  • Gender based discrimination
  • Early and forced marriage
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Gender-based violence
  • Gender equality
  • Gender identities and expressions
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Maternal morbidity & mortality
  • Reproductive rights
  • Rights of intersex people
  • Rights of sex workers
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexual rights of young people