Sexual Freedom – Concept, importance and sexual rights

We explain what sexual freedom is and what its legal meaning is. Also, sexual rights and the importance of each one.

sexual freedom
Sexual freedom is limited only by the freedom of others.

What is sexual freedom?

In legal terms, talking about sexual freedom refers to the capacity for autonomy and sexual self-determination that individuals possessIn other words, the freedom to choose and explore their sexuality freely, with no other limitations than respect for the freedom of others.

This implies the power to freely choose sexual partners, make and reject proposals freely, and follow a given sexual trend at any time, without this entailing persecution, social or labor stigmatization, or some other type of negative consequences.

Sexual freedom is common to all human beings, and is expressed in a series of fundamental sexual rights, which have to do with the disposition of the body itself. This can be understood as the exercise of two forms of free will, as expressed by the jurist and philosopher Norberto Bobbio regarding human freedoms:

  • Positive freedom or of the will, which in this case translates into the freedom to make sexual decisions based on one’s own will and act accordingly.
  • Negative freedom or to act, which in this case translates into the freedom to do or not do (omit) what one wishes to do, without a third party being able to influence it.

Put more simply, sexual freedoms empower the individual to freely dispose of their body and their sexual desire, thus being able to act accordingly or not act at all, provided that they show respect for the freedoms of others.

On the other hand, the term sexual freedom is often used in particular reference to women, homosexuals and transsexuals, understood as disadvantaged sexual categories in common societies, whose idea of ​​sex revolves around male satisfaction.

For this reason, many feminist groups and activists have raised the flag of sexual freedom, claiming that sexual behaviors approved and praised in men, are instead sanctioned and recriminated in women.

However, we must not confuse sexual freedom with free love, or sexual promiscuity, or with a certain sexual practice. It is a legal concept. Nor should we confuse it with the sexual revolution experienced in the West during the mid-twentieth century, largely thanks to the appearance of birth control pills.

Sexual rights

Sexual rights are those derived from sexual freedom, that is, those that allow individuals the free choice, expression and experience of their sexuality, without having a negative impact on other aspects of your life. That is, not to suffer discrimination based on sexual orientation.

These rights are usually presented together with reproductive rights, particularly with regard to the situation of women, and are enshrined in numerous international treaties, such as the Yogyakarta Principles, whose standards on the matter govern the United Nations and its various dependencies, as well as its Human Rights Council.

Sexual rights can be summarized as:

  • Right to life and protection against hatred and violence. This implies that States must actively investigate and fight sexually motivated crimes, such as femicides and transphobic crimes. They should also educate their population to mitigate the expression of hatred towards others based on their sexual behaviors.
  • Right to free association, free expression and non-discrimination. Similarly, the State must guarantee people free expression and association without their sexual orientation or sexual identity influencing them, and that they must be guaranteed equal standards before the law, like any other citizen.
  • Right to private and family life. Just as the privacy of any person and their private life are worthy of respect, so must those of any individual with a sexual orientation other than the traditional one, that is, those of homosexuals, transsexuals, intersex, etc. This is particularly true when it comes to sexual privacy: someone’s sexual preferences are their sole concern.
  • Right to health and education. Sexual preferences or sexual tendencies should never be a reason for the exclusion of an individual from the educational and health systems required for their training as an individual and the protection of their health. In the same way, every individual must be guaranteed the information necessary for their sexual and reproductive well-being.
  • Right to sexual pleasure. Every individual, whatever their gender or sexual orientation, has the right to enjoy and practice their sexuality freely, always within the limits imposed by respect for the freedoms and well-being of others. Under no circumstances may your orientation or identity be a reason to suffer sexual violence of any kind, such as humiliation, rape, and physical or psychological assault.
  • Right to identity and sexual autonomy. The sexual identity, sexual orientation and gender of people should not be a reason for derision and social stigmatization, which forces them to live in secret. Everyone must be able to assume their sexual identity and make sexual decisions autonomously and responsibly, without fear of moral or social reprisals.