Sexuality Policy Watch

The Yogyakarta Principles

By Daniel Sarmento*

One of the most important human rights issues in the current world regards discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Notwithstanding advances that have been achieved in some countries, the systematic violation of human rights, the prejudice and the violence – physical or symbolic – are still the rule in this field, generating social exclusion, stigmatization and the oppression of a large number of persons all around the world. Nevertheless, despite the seriousness of the problem, the treatment given so far to the subject at the International Human Rights Law level has been fragile and insufficient. To address this problem, a group composed by 29 distinguished human rights experts, from 25 different countries, gathered in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in November 2006, in order to develop a set of legal principles on the application of international human rights law to violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity, when they unanimously adopted The Yogyakarta Principles.

The Yogyakarta Principles contain 29 principles specifying how a broad range of human rights should be applied in order to protect and promote the human dignity of those who are discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, taking account of their specific situations and experiences. Each principle is accompanied by a detailed list containing concrete recommendations and guidelines to the States, which includes not only negative obligations, of abstaining to violate some rights, but positive duties as well, to materially promote these rights in the real world, and to protect them from the threats to which they are exposed at the social sphere. Besides, the Yogyakarta Principles also comprise a list of additional recommendations addressed to other actors, like international organs and institutions, the media, NGO’s and funders, acknowledging their important roles and responsibilities in this area. The Principles are not mere aspirations of their drafters, but reflect the international human rights law, which binds all the States. Therefore, those who wish to live in a world in which all people are treated as free and equal in dignity shall fight to implement the Yogiakarta Principles.

* Constitutional Law Professor at UERJ and Federal Prosecutor in Brazil

:: Posted in 03/31/2008 ::

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