World Association for Sexology fights to protect sexual freedom

by Sascha Matuszak

People around the world now have international support in their fight for the right to have healthy sex.
The World Association for Sexology ratified a Declaration of Sexual Rights on Aug. 26 during their 14th World Congress in Hong Kong.
The declaration defends rights to sexual freedom, privacy, expression and pleasure. The declaration also protects citizens’ rights to comprehensive sexual education, health care and scientific information.
“Sexual rights are basic, fundamental human rights,” said Eli Coleman, World Association for Sexology president and director of the University’s Program in Human Sexuality.
The declaration will act as a standard from which worldwide organizations can affect sex policy in their own countries.
“We hope to have more organizations … accept this declaration,” said Beverly Whipple, president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and a nursing professor at Rutgers University.
The study of sex is important to the improvement of public health and policy, Coleman said.
“Sexology takes a bio-psycho-social approach on what motivates people to (have sex),” he explained.
The sexology association has successfully campaigned in Japan, Egypt and Mexico.
Last year, the Mexican Federation for Sexual Health and Education and the Committee of Human Rights in Mexico City held a forum on sexual violence.
The forum concluded with both parties agreeing that Mexican laws were inadequate and needed to be reformed, said Eusebio Rubio-Aurioles, the association’s secretary general and treasurer.
Last week, the Mexican senate approved a modification to the law. The international pressure provided by the Declaration of Sexual Rights helped sway the Mexican politicians, Rubio-Aurioles said.
The association is also collaborating with the World Health Organization to train and promote public health regarding sexuality.
A University model to improve sexual health has been experimented with in Latin America.
“An expanded version could work wonderfully in different cultural contexts,” said Rafael Mezin, HIV and AIDS adviser for the Pan-American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization.
Mezin said he and Coleman are working to make the sexology association an adviser to the World Health Organization.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the United Nations’ signing of the Declaration of Human Rights. From September until December, the United Nations will conduct extensive meetings on the state of world human rights. Sexology association members would like their declaration to be made part of the United Nation’s campaign for human rights.
“Hopefully the World Health Organization and the United Nations will also accept this declaration,” Whipple said. “If funding can be tied into these rights, it will have a dramatic impact on human rights worldwide.”
This is a new role for the association, which has previously been mostly scientific in nature. Scientific inquiries of sex have been thwarted in the United States and in other countries. But this opposition made a more political role necessary, Coleman said.
“Drafting a declaration which is acceptable to all the countries in the world is difficult,” Coleman said. “We have to be somewhat politically active, or we can’t do our own work.”
So the association created a commission to review sexual rights around the world. A database will also allow sexologists, policy-makers and civilians to determine which countries adhere to sexual rights and which do not.
“If countries are in violation of these rights, we will protest through public statements to government officials,” Coleman said. “We will do what any watchdog-advocacy group does.”
The declaration is the first step in a campaign aiming to establish sexual freedom as a basic human right.
“Sexuality is a basic part of every human being,” Whipple said. “We are all sexual beings; we have the capacity to express our sexuality in many ways: behaviorally, psychologically, socially, emotionally (and) spiritually.”

Sascha Matuszak covers international affairs and welcomes comments at [email protected].