New International Planned Parenthood Document Tells States to Guarantee Sweeping “Sexual Rights”

Thu Nov 13, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Samantha Singson

NEW YORK, November 13, 2008 (C-FAM) - The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)  has issued a new document that declares that governments are obligated to guarantee a sweeping definition of “sexual rights,” including abortion, “sexual freedom” and “comprehensive sexuality education,” as an integral component of human rights. 

The IPPF declaration defines sexual rights as “an evolving concept that encompasses sexual activity, gender identities, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.” IPPF differentiates “sexual rights” from “reproductive rights,” a term that it equates with abortion, specifying that “sexual rights encompass more than entitlements related to health” and that “many expressions of sexuality are non-reproductive.”

The IPPF declaration is broken down into a series of ten articles, each of which lists a series of demands. Under the article on the “right to life, liberty and security of the person and bodily integrity,” IPPF includes a right to abortion, stipulating that “no woman shall be condemned to forced maternity as a result of having exercised her sexuality” and that all women have a right to safe abortion services “independently of the objection of health service providers” - in other words, gutting conscientious objector rights.

Other articles include demands for all persons in custody “to have regular conjugal visits,” all individuals to have their self-defined gender identity reflected on government documents “including but not limited to birth certificates and passports,” and “the right to explore their sexuality and fantasies free from fear, shame, guilt, false beliefs and other impediments to the free expression of their desires.”

The IPPF declaration concludes its list of demands with an article on the “right to accountability and redress.”  IPPF insists that states establish accountability mechanisms to ensure that “sexual rights” are “fully upheld.” According to IPPF, this includes “the ability to monitor the implementation of sexual rights and to access remedies for violations of sexual rights, including access to full redress through restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, guarantee of non-repetition.”

The declaration links “sexual rights” to long-established human rights, such as the rights to life, equality, non-discrimination, privacy, freedom of thought, education, and to marry and found a family. IPPF asserts that states have a legal obligation to “respect, protect and fulfill sexual rights” and that governments are required “to adopt appropriate legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial, promotional and other measures toward the full realization of the right.”

The term “sexual rights” has never been included in any binding United Nations (UN) document. Proponents tried to get it included in the Platform for Action of the Beijing Women’s Conference (1995) but 65 governments objected and it was removed. It was tried again at the Hague Forum leading into the five-year review of the Cairo Conference and was rejected there, too.

IPPF, however, has already declared that it will do everything it can to safeguard “sexual rights” at future UN conferences.  IPPF president Jacqueline Sharpe stated that “the Declaration will enable members of the sexual and reproductive health and human rights communities to create change and build on the momentum that has already begun around sexual rights in preparation for the next International Conference on Population and Development in 2015.”

(This article reprinted with permission from

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