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affirmative sexuality

Sexuality is an integral and natural part of life, and is intertwined with the most fundamental of human rights.

WHO recognizes “the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being,” and if this right to health is to be achieved, human beings have to be able to exercise choice in their sexual and reproductive lives and be able to safely and confidently express their own sexual identity. For this, it is important to use a framework that acknowledges and addresses the various dangers associated with health and violence aspects of sexuality, and also embraces positive assertions of sexual pleasure and diversity.

Affirmative sexuality is a framework that acknowledges that freedom from coercion, violence and discrimination is critical to achieving sexual rights, and affirms that positive sexual rights — including the right to sexual expression, pleasure, fulfillment, and well-being, as well as broader sexual freedom — are equally important. It calls for an inclusive approach to sexualities and underlines the importance of the right to all non-conforming sexualities.

An approach that affirms sexuality as being integral and of value to people’s lives also makes demands for human rights. Just as women’s rights and reproductive rights are human rights, so must sexual rights be claimed as human rights. This is reflected in the evolving articulation of sexual rights that includes rights to be free from discrimination, coercion and violence; and rights based on positive ethical principles, such as those of bodily integrity (“my body is mine”), personhood (the right to make one’s own choices), equality (among all people) and respect for diversity (in the context of culture, provided the first three principles are not violated).