Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance

Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right

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Sexual Health & Rights

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.

These working definitions were elaborated as a result of a WHO-convened international technical consultation on sexual health in January 2002, and subsequently revised by a group of experts from different parts of the world. They are endorsed and formally adopted by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, 2005.

Sexual Health

Sexual Health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. 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 (WHO working definition, 2002).

Sexual Rights

Sexual rights are a component of human rights. These rights emanate from the rights to freedom, equality, privacy, autonomy, integrity and dignity of all people. These rights are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

  • equality, equal protection of the law and freedom from all forms of discrimination based on sex, sexuality or gender
  • the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services and the benefits of scientific progress;
  • privacy
  • seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;
  • sexuality education;
  • respect for bodily integrity and personal autonomy;
  • freedom of thought, opinion and expression
  • choose their partner;
  • decide to be sexually active or not;
  • consensual sexual relations;
  • consensual relationships, including marriage and other forms of family;
  • decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and
  • pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others. Sexual health and rights intersect in many ways; AIDS rights, reproductive health rights and the right to access safe and medically-sound sexual health information, among others.

“Our role as sexuality advocates is to promote the possibility for every person to experience the full richness of sexual self-acceptance and the tolerance of others however and with whom they express their sexualities. Plain and simple, sexual health is about the right to be you and to be fully human.”

-Sexual Health, excerpted from Our Fundamental Human Right to Sexual Freedom and the State of Sexual Freedom in the United States, Patti Britton, PhD, MPH, ACSE, ACS, ABS, FAACS, MSC

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Key Issues

  • Sex Work

    Sex Work

    Sex work refers to a wide range of activity where sexual interaction is explicitly exchanged for something of value.

  • Sexual Speech and Expression

    Sexual Speech & Expression

    WSFA firmly believes that human beings possess a fundamental right to develop and express their sexuality.

  • Sexual Health & Rights

    Sexual Health & Rights

    Sexual Health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well being in relation to sexuality.

  • Integration of Sex and Religion

    Integration of Sex & Religion

    Sexuality and faith are two of the most deeply important and deeply personal aspects of human identity.

  • LGBT Rights

    LGBT Rights

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are entitled to the realization of the full spectrum of their human rights.

  • Civil Rights

    Civil Rights

    Civil rights are one sub-set of human rights that exist equal to and interdependent with multiple fundamental human rights.

  • Reproductive Rights

    Reproductive Justice

    Grounded in the human rights framework, reproductive justice refers to all of the conditions necessary for all people to enjoy reproductive freedom.

  • Sexuality Education

    Sexuality Education

    Every human being deserves access to medically accurate and inclusive information about sex and sexuality.

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