Sexuality and Human Rights

32 resource(s)


“I’m scared to be a woman” human rights abuses against transgender people in Malaysia
Human Rights Watch (2014)

This report highlights that transgender people in Malaysia face discrimination in accessing employment, health care, and education, as well as criminal prosecution under laws that effectively prohibit 'cross-dressing'.

Reclaiming & redefining rights – sexuality & rights in Asia
Thanenthiran, S.
Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW) (2012)

This report attempts to ascribe concrete indicators to the concept of sexual rights to enable a better understanding of sexual rights issues. It also argues that it's important to highlight the range of issues that fall under the terminology of sexual rights, in order to help advance the uptake of the concept and language of sexual rights. 

Human rights and intersex people
Agius, S.
Council of Europe (2015)

This issue paper calls on states to end medically unnecessary 'normalising' treatment of intersex persons when it is enforced without proper, informed consent of the person concerned. It also suggests possible ways forward in terms of protection against discrimination of intersex people, adequate recognition of their sex on official documents and access to justice.

Perspectives 2011 to 2013
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (2013)

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission collection of commentaries, testimonies and blogs from 20 human rights defenders around the world.


Global activism and sexualities in the time of HIV/AIDs
Seckinelgin, H.
From Contemporary Politics, 15 (1) p.103-118 Contemporary Politics (2016)

This contribution responds to the question of how transnational human rights networks affect people's politics in the global south and what is the role of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) category in claiming rights for others.

Re-orienting desire: The gay international and the Arab world
Massad, J.
From Article from Public Culture, 14(2) pp.361-85Public Culture (2002)
Human rights considerations in addressing HIV among men who have sex with men
Avrett, S.
USAID (2011)

This  brief provides a global review and synthesis of practical approaches, program examples, and resources to support human rights as a core element of HIV programming for men who have sex with men.

Human rights and sexuality in the context of development
Sexual Rights Initiative (2013)

The purpose of this paper is to provide a deeper analysis of the connections and intersections between sexuality and human rights in development. It was developed for the ICPD Beyond 2014 International Conference on Human Rights.

Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity at the UN General Assembly
Sheill, K.
Journal of Human Rights Practice (2009)

The article is a brief reflection on the joint statement at the UN General Assembly on human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity – signed by 66 states in December 2008.

'You cannot eat rights': a qualitative study of views by Zambian HIV-vulnerable women, youth and MSM on human rights as public health tools.
Muzyamba, C. Broaddus, E. and Campbell, C.
BMC International Health and Human Rights (2015)

This article argues that a rights-based approach seeks to tackle the symbolic drivers of HIV but fails to resonate with youth and women’s own understandings of their needs and priorities due to its neglect of material drivers of HIV such as poverty and unemployment.

Sexuality, violence against women and human rights: Women make demands and ladies get protection
Miller, A.M.
Miller, A. M.. (2004). Sexuality, Violence against Women, and Human Rights: Women Make Demands and Ladies Get Protection. Health and Human Rights, 7(2), 16–47. Health and Human Rights (2004)

This article explores the state-oriented focus of rights work on the suffering body, its reliance on criminal law, and its failure to develop a theory of economic justice.It argues that health and human rights work must consider the complexities of portraying women as sexual agents, targets of abuse and citizens at the same time, if it seeks to fulfill its original promise.  

Conflicted normative power Europe: The European Union and sexual minority rights
Mos, M.
Mos, M. (2013). ‘Conflicted Normative Power Europe: The European Union and Sexual Minority Rights’, Journal of Contemporary European Research. 9 (1), pp. 78‐93. (2013)

This paper evaluates the extent to which the European Union manifests the ability to act as, and possesses the potential to develop into, a norm-setting bureaucracy in its external relations when it comes to the protection and promotion of sexual minority rights.


Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for decriminalisation and change
Lennox, C., and Waites, M. (eds)
Institute of Commonwealth Studies (2013)

This book challenges focuses on experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) and all non-heterosexual people in the Commonwealth. It offers an analysis of the global struggle for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour and relationships.

Written out: How sexuality is used to attack women's organising
Rothschild, C., S.Long, and S.Fried.
International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (2005)

This book shows how attacks on women's sexualities threaten all women's basic human rights to bodily integrity, to expression, and to association, as well as undermine essential values of equality and dignity. It includes analysis of the political climate and recent experiences of sexuality-baiting directed at women because of their political work, who they are, or who they are seen to be.

Newspaper articles & blog posts

'Traditional values' vs human rights at the UN
Murphy, M.
openDemocracy (2013)

This article argues that a dangerous process is taking place in the UN system that threatens the universality of human rights by seeking to make them contingent on subjective ‘traditional values’ such as ‘responsible behaviour’.

The ten faces of sexuality
Tamale, S.
Kuchu Times (2015)

Sylvia Tamale on how different 'faces' of sexuality have been manifested in Uganda andanalysing their intersections with human rights, and the social norms that mould them. 

Governments must respect, protect and fulfill human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identit
Darkoa Sekyiamah, N.
AWID (2015)

Sexual activist Cynthia Rothschild is interviewed about a recent Human Rights Council report on sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination and violence, the June 2015 Human Rights Council session and whether there it will have an impact on people's everyday lives.

Child marriage in India finally meets its match as young brides turn to courts
Dhillon, A.
The Guardian (2015)

How women's rights activists are helping girls in India fight back against child marriage. Despite it being illegal, almost half of Indian girls marry before they turn 18.

Gay rights as human rights: Pinkwashing homonationalism
Mikdashi, M.
Jaddaliya (2011)

This article describes 'pinkwashing' from the US and Israeli governments and the hypocracy that lies underneath.

"Prostitution is a human right" said nobody ever
Overs, C. and Yingwana, N.
WhyDev (2015)

Cheryl Overs and Ntokozo Yingwana explore the reaction to Amnesty International's policy on sex work and the law and the world's reaction.

Rescued but not released: the ‘protective custody’ of sex workers in India
Ramachandran, V.
openDemocracy (2015)

Article about 'protective homes' for women 'rescued' from the sex trade and how freedom can become a casualty of a moralistic agenda of protectionism and reform. 

Clips and documentaries

Freaks, flags and freedom fighters: Love, hate and the limits of law reform
TannerHumnRights (2016)


A lecture by Lisa Duggan at the Fourth Annual Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy Forum. Controlling Sexuality through Violence, Shame, nd Cultural Oppression: Implications for Human Rights. 

Global Human Rights for Queers: Intoduction by Zaneli Muholi
Pride Toronto (2009)

Global Human Rights For Queers 01: Zanele Muholi intro

This video features Zaneli Muhol, a South African born activist and photographer. She co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), a black lesbian organisation based in Gauteng, and has worked as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on LGBTI affairs in Africa.

Educação e Diversidade Sexual - Pgm.1 - Direitos Humanos a Diversidade Sexual

Educação E Diversidade Sexual - Pgm.1 - Direitos Humanos E Diversidade Sexual

This video looks at debates around education, LGBT rights and homophobia. It is composed of 5 parts. This is the first one, you can follow the links for the other 4 parts on YouTube.

The ABC of human rights for development cooperation
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (2014)

This tool provides the information on the human rights system of the United Nations. It aims to encourage development practitioners to make more use of human rights as a point of reference and as a part of their daily work.

Universal Periodic Review
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

Universal Periodic Review: ARC International guide
ARC International (2016)

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which allows scrutiny of the human rights records of all UN States. This resource contains information on references to sexual orientation and gender identity in the Universal Periodic Review documents, as well as refences and recommendations made and State responses to these recommendations.

Universal Human Rights Index
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The database provides country-specific human rights information coming from international human rights mechanisms in the United Nations system: the Treaty Bodies, the Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The user can find out about human rights issues worldwide and see how the legal interpretation of international human rights law has evolved over recent years.

Practical guides

Icts for feminist movement building activist toolkit
Just Associates, Association for Progressive Communications, Women'sNet (2015)

This guide draws on the experience and contexts of women activists in southern Africa and beyond. It aims to assist activists to think through their communication strategies in a way that supports movement building, while making creative, safe and sustainable choices in using ICTs. 

List of materials and resources for women human rights defenders
Barcia, I. (ed)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (AWID) (2011)

This compilation of resources for women human rights defenders at risk aims of the compilation is to provide women human rights defenders with a reference tool of existing resources that may be useful to their work and to those facing risks.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Toolkit
Sexual Rights Initiative and International Planned Parenthood Federation (2012)

This toolkit is designed to assist Civil Society Organisations to participate in the Universal Periodic Review, a process for reviewing the human rights record of all 193 UN member states.

Accessing US embassies: A guide for LGBT human rights defenders
The Council For Global Equality (2012)

This guide is intended as a manual for LGBT activists and NGOs in other countries to help them understand how US embassies work and how to get support in human rights.

The resources in this section have been recommended by colleagues at the Sexuality and Development programme at IDS and our global partners. If you would like to suggest another report to include here please email the details to