On Sexual Health Day 2014, WAS has released a revision of its Declaration of Sexual Rights. This Declaration was updated to respond to critical discussions that have been occurring within the United Nations regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In April 2014, World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) representative Esther Corona of Mexico delivered a statement to the United Nations regarding the revised declaration of sexual rights. She stated: “Great strides have been made since ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) in the recognition that reproductive health is closely linked to a broad understanding of sexuality as a central aspect of being human that encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.”

She continued saying “Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

In the revised declaration, WAS declares that the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights apply to all sexual rights and freedoms and they protect all people’s rights to fulfill and express their sexuality and enjoy sexual health, with due regard for the rights of others. The following sexual rights pertain to a person’s sexuality.

  • The right to equality and non-discrimination.
  • The right to life, liberty, and security of the person.
  • The right to autonomy and bodily integrity.
  • The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • The right to be free from all forms of violence and coercion.
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health; with the possibility of having pleasurable, satisfying, and safe sexual experiences.
  • The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application.
  • The right to information
  • The right to education and the right to comprehensive sexuality education.
  • The right to enter, form, and dissolve marriage and other types of relationships based on equality and full and free consent.
  • The right to decide whether to have children, the number and spacing of children, and to have the information and the means to do so.
  • The right to the freedom of thought, opinion, and expression.
  • The right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
  • The right to participation in public and political life.
  • The right to access to justice, remedies, and redress.

These are all part of basic human rights and should be promoted, protected and monitored for human rights violations.

WAS recognizes that persons’ sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and bodily diversities require human rights protection and that all types of violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, and stigmatization are violations of human rights, and impact the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

Co-Chair of the WAS Task Force to Revise the Declaration and Director of the Program in Human Sexuality, Eli Coleman, PhD, affirmed the Declaration, stating: “Essentially, you cannot have sexual health without sexual rights.”

For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled. The time has come to recognize that sexual rights are based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings and include a commitment to protection from harm.

The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) is a multidisciplinary, world-wide group of scientific societies, NGOs and professionals in the field of human sexuality which promotes sexual health throughout the lifespan and through the world by developing, promoting and supporting sexology and sexual rights for all. WAS accomplishes this by advocacy actions, networking, facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences and advancing scientifically based sexuality research, sexuality education and clinical sexology, with a trans-disciplinary approach.

The WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights was originally proclaimed at the 13th World Congress of Sexology in Valencia, Spain in 1997 and then, in 1999, a revision was approved in Hong Kong by the WAS General Assembly and then reaffirmed in the WAS Declaration: Sexual Health for the Millenium (2008). This revised Declaration was approved by the WAS Advisory Council in March, 2014.

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