Sexuality Policy Watch

Sexual and reproductive rights in May and early June


In May and early June the Brazilian sexual politics scenario has winessed setbacks and authoritarian measures, particularly with regard to women’s rights. At the end of May, the Minister of Health published an ordinance aimed at regulating the access to and reibursement of abortion procedures provided by the the public health systems in the cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, women’s health risk and pregnacies of anencephalic fetus. Two days later, however, under pressure from conservative lawmakers who criticized the text, the ordinance was repealed,  in another episode in which the Executive surrenders to the blackmail from these forces. The supension of the ordinance generated strong critiques on the part of reproductuve rights movements.

Also at the end of the month, in Niterói (metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro), the police raided a building where female prostitutes worked to evict them. These women were brutalized by the police officer who abused, raped and robbed them. The police chief responsible for the operation declared that in the place “crime was repeated perpetrated” even though prostitution is not a crime in Brazilian law. The Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association issued a statement condemning the police action and noting that such actions potentiate stigma and discrimination and hence increasing the vulnerability of sex workers in relation to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.


On the global and regional scenarios some good news can be, however, reported. One very significant fact was that the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights approved in its 55th Ordinary Session the first continental resolution condemning human rights violations based on gender identity and sexual orientation, either perpretraded by states or by non-state actors. The resolution also demands that African States must establish mechanisms for protecting and promoting the rights of these individuals.

A bit later at the 44th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, in Asunción, it was approved the seventh resolution also addressing the human rights violations of people whose sexual orientation and gender identity differ from the dominant norm, a text that had been openly attacked by conservative forces, including through ther position expressed by the government of Paraguay.

In Denmark, the Parliament passed a new law authorizing the legal change of sex/gender without the requirement of a medical diagnosis of “gender identity disorder”. As in the case of the 2012 Argentinean law, self-declaration and informed consent is sufficient to attain the legal changes.

Also in recognition of the primacy of individual reproductive autonomy, the World Health Organization released and inter-agency document recomending the elimination of forced and coercive sterilization, including in the cointext of sex/gender reassigment, which establishes new standards for the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights of all persons.

But SPW has also gathered few somber news, such as the worldwide media flare informing that nearly 800 skeletons of infants were found near a former convent in Ireland. The place housed between 1925 and 1961 young women who became pregnant out of wedlock, a fact considered immoral at the time and, therefore, justifing their confinement. The revelation of the bodies whose deaths were caused by starvation and infectious diseases, led the Irish authorities to open investigation, adding to the history of the Catholic Church another episode of scandals motivated by issues of sexuality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content