Sexual rights framework

Sexual rights are human rights applied to sexuality, where sexuality refers to our sexual thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and identity. Sexual rights exist to protect us from discrimination, and to ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect. 

The Framework of Sexual Rights below is based on the Declaration of Sexual Rights from the World Association for Sexual Health. It has been adapted from our book Addressing the sexual rights of older people and designed for use in research, teaching, health and social care practice, and advocacy/activism. You are welcome to use the framework in your own work (please acknowledge the source). 

Download a pdf of the sexual rights that are listed below, and follow the #SexRightsAge campaign on social media.

Older adults have the right to:

1. Equality & non-discrimination
To benefit from all sexual rights without distinction based on social category, identity, and status, including sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, family status, health status, and disability.

2. Life, liberty & security
To live life securely, and be free from oppressive restrictions that can be imposed by governments and other authoritative bodies.

3. Autonomy & bodily integrity
To freely decide and be in control of your own body and sexuality, including identity, behaviours, and partnerships.

4. Be free from torture & cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment
To not experience behaviours that are cruel, degrading, inhumane, or torturous because of sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual expression, and body diversity.

5. Be free from all forms of violence and coercion
To not experience coercion or violence that is related to any aspect of sexuality, or is sexually based (e.g. rape, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation).

6. Privacy
To be free from interference by other people due to our age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and social class. And to have control over what personal information is made available to others.

7. The highest attainable standard of health including sexual health
To be able to attain a high level of physical and mental health. This includes sexual health and sexual well-being, and the availability of accessible and appropriate health services.

8. Enjoy the benefits of scientific progress & its application
To benefit from advances in science, in health and sexuality, and its application to the lives of older adults.

9. Information
To benefit from information on sexuality and ageing that is scientifically accurate and understandable. It should be free from censorship and misrepresentation, and be available through various sources.

10. Comprehensive sexuality education
To be able to access sex and relationships education that is comprehensive, age appropriate, and non-discriminatory.

11. Enter, form & dissolve marriage & other similar types of relationships
To make informed decisions about our own interpersonal relationships. This includes ensuring that relational activities are consensual, and equal rights are in force at all times including the dissolution of the relationship.

12. Freedom of thought, opinion & expression
To be free to think about, and express, sexuality without prejudice or discrimination. This includes the way we act and the way we look (our physical appearance).

13. Freedom of association & peaceful assembly
To be free to advocate, organize, and assemble peacefully and without threat to our health and well-being.

14. Participate in public & political life
To participate in, and contribute to, public and political life. Older adults have the right to play a meaningful role in the civil, economic, social, and political environments regarding their welfare.

15. Access to justice, remedies & redress
To be able to access justice, remedies, and redress when sexual rights are violated. This covers the educational, legislative, and judicial systems.

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