By Amy Jo Goddard
Given the latest attacks on women’s sexual and reproductive rights and the responses of many critical thinking lawmakers about men’s sexual rights, I thought it was high time I posted the actual Declaration of Sexual Rights.
I’ve often heard people’s surprise at the idea of having sexual rights. I hope you’ll give some thought to the eleven rights that my colleagues at the World Association for Sexology drafted back in 1999 in order to bring into the light how important it is that we address sexuality as a fundamental part of who we are and of our total freedom, equality and certainly, our pursuit of happiness.
DECLARATION OF SEXUAL RIGHTS Adopted by the World Association for Sexology, Hong Kong, 1999. Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of every human being. Its full development depends upon the satisfaction of basic human needs such as the desire for contact, intimacy, emotional expression, pleasure, tenderness and love. Sexuality is constructed through the interaction between the individual and social structures. Full development of sexuality is essential for individual, interpersonal, and societal well being. Sexual rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings. Since health is a fundamental human right, so must sexual health be a basic human right. In order to assure that human beings and societies develop healthy sexuality, the following sexual rights must be recognized, promoted, respected, and defended by all societies through all means. Sexual health is the result of an environment that recognizes, respects and exercises these sexual rights.
1. The right to sexual freedom. Sexual freedom encompasses the possibility for individuals to express their full sexual potential. However, this excludes all forms of sexual coercion, exploitation and abuse at any time and situations in life.
2. The right to sexual autonomy, sexual integrity, and safety of the sexual body. This right involves the ability to make autonomous decisions about one’s sexual life within a context of one’s own personal and social ethics. It also encompasses control and enjoyment of our own bodies free from torture, mutilation and violence of any sort.
3. The right to sexual privacy. This involves the right for individual decisions and behaviors about intimacy as long as they do not intrude on the sexual rights of others.
4. The right to sexual equity. This refers to freedom from all forms of discrimination regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, social class, religion, or physical and emotional disability.
5. The right to sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure, including autoeroticism, is a source of physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual well being.
6. The right to emotional sexual expression. Sexual expression is more than erotic pleasure or sexual acts. Individuals have a right to express their sexuality through communication, touch, emotional expression and love.
7. The right to sexually associate freely. This means the possibility to marry or not, to divorce, and to establish other types of responsible sexual associations.
8. The right to make free and responsible reproductive choices. This encompasses the right to decide whether or not to have children, the number and spacing of children, and the right to full access to the means of fertility regulation.
9. The right to sexual information based upon scientific inquiry. This right implies that sexual information should be generated through the process of unencumbered and yet scientifically ethical inquiry, and disseminated in appropriate ways at all societal levels.
10. The right to comprehensive sexuality education. This is a lifelong process from birth throughout the life cycle and should involve all social institutions.
11. The right to sexual health care. Sexual health care should be available for prevention and treatment of all sexual concerns, problems and disorders. Sexual Rights are Fundamental and Universal Human Rights
Most of these rights are either currently being violated systemically in the U.S. or proposed amendments and bills will be in violation of them, should they pass.
In case you missed it, Oklahoma State Senator Johnson proposed the “spilled semen amendment” to the Oklahoma state personhood bill, which grants rights to an embryo. In an interview she said that, “Anytime a man spills semen anywhere than in a woman’s vagina he would be deemed as violating this proposal.” Check out the full interview on NPR where lawmakers debate our sexual and reproductive rights. This is a serious slippery slope. Pay attention!