Mike Segar/Reuters
The United Nations headquarters in Manhattan is seen across the East River as the sun rises in New York, Thursday. More than 100 world leaders are expected to gather at UN headquarters this month for the 70th United Nations General Assembly which convenes September 28.

US government adopts 'sexual rights' vocabulary: What does the term mean?

The White House announcement follows years of work by lobbyists pushing for the US government to take a bigger role in promoting gender-related issues.

The US government has expanded its vocabulary with the new term “sexual rights.”

A statement at a United Nations meeting this week announced that the US government will begin using the term “sexual rights” in discussions of human rights. The statement is a result of years of lobbying by interest groups who argued the United States should show global leadership on addressing the rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual rights, according to the US statement posted on a State Department website, include "right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.” The US definition is generally in line with a pre-existing definition on the World Health Organization website (which is not an official WHO definition). 

The announcement precedes a gathering of 150 world leaders at the UN to launch ambitious new development goals, including gender equality. A major push at the gathering will be to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights by 2030. 

Richard Erdman, a deputy US ambassador to the UN, was specified that the term “sexual rights” will not be used for anything legally binding.

“Our use of the term does not reflect a view that they are part of customary international law. It is, however, a critical express of our support for the rights and dignity of all individuals regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” Mr. Erdman told the Associated Press.

Proponents of the term are still optimistic that the adoption of the phrase will add weight to the global discussion of gender-specific issues. The Washington-based Center for Health and Gender Equity applauded the decision.

“On one level, it’s symbolic. It also sends a signal to the global community that sexual and reproductive health are rights are a part of the global development agenda,” Serra Sippel, the center’s President, told the AP.

Ms. Sippel said the decision was “the United States catching up with the rest of the world.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to US government adopts 'sexual rights' vocabulary: What does the term mean?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today