Yogyakarta Principles

The Yogyakarta Principles is a document about human rights in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity, published as the outcome of an international meeting of human rights groups in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in November 2006. The Principles were supplemented in 2017, expanding to include new grounds of gender expression and sex characteristics, and a number of new principles.

The Principles and the supplement contains a set of precepts intended to apply the standards of international human rights law to address the abuse of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and intersex people.

Versions of the Principles

The original 2007 Principles

The Principles themselves are a lengthy document addressing legal matters. A website established to hold the principles and make them accessible has an overview of the principles,[1] reproduced here in full:

  • Preamble: The Preamble acknowledges human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which undermine the integrity and dignity, establishes the relevant legal framework, and provides definitions of key terms.
  • Rights to Universal Enjoyment of Human Rights, Non-Discrimination and Recognition before the Law: Principles 1 to 3 set out the principles of the universality of human rights and their application to all persons without discrimination, as well as the right of all people to recognition as a person before the law without sex reassignment surgery or sterilisation.
    • Example:
      • Laws criminalising homosexuality violate the international right to non-discrimination (decision of the UN Human Rights Committee).
  • Rights to Human and Personal Security: Principles 4 to 11 address fundamental rights to life, freedom from violence and torture, privacy, access to justice and freedom from arbitrary detention, and human trafficking.[2]
    • Examples:
      • The death penalty continues to be applied for consensual adult sexual activity between persons of the same sex, despite UN resolutions emphasizing that the death penalty may not be imposed for "sexual relations between consenting adults."
      • Eleven men were arrested in a gay bar and held in custody for over a year. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the men were detained in violation of international law, noting with concern that "one of the prisoners died as a result of his arbitrary detention".
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Principles 12 to 18 set out the importance of non-discrimination in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including employment, accommodation, social security, education, sexual and reproductive health including the right for informed consent and sex reassignment therapy.
  • Rights to Expression, Opinion and Association: Principles 19 to 21 emphasise the importance of the freedom to express oneself, one's identity and one's sexuality, without State interference based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including the rights to participate peaceably in public assemblies and events and otherwise associate in community with others.
    • Example:
      • A peaceful gathering to promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity was banned by authorities, and participants were harassed and intimidated by police and extremist nationalists shouting slogans such as "Let's get the fags" and "We'll do to you what Hitler did with Jews" (report of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia & related intolerance).
  • Freedom of Movement and Asylum: Principles 22 and 23 highlight the rights of persons to seek asylum from persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Rights of Participation in Cultural and Family Life: Principles 24 to 26 address the rights of persons to participate in family life, public affairs and the cultural life of their community, without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • Example:
      • States have an obligation not to discriminate between different-sex and same-sex relationships in allocating partnership benefits such as survivors' pensions (decision of the UN Human Rights Committee).
  • Rights of Human Rights Defenders: Principle 27 recognises the right to defend and promote human rights without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the obligation of States to ensure the protection of human rights defenders working in these areas.
    • Examples:
      • Human rights defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues in countries and regions around the world "have been threatened, had their houses and offices raided, they have been attacked, tortured, sexually abused, tormented by regular death threats and even killed. A major concern in this regard is an almost complete lack of seriousness with which such cases are treated by the concerned authorities." (report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders).
  • Rights of Redress and Accountability: Principles 28 and 29 affirm the importance of holding rights violators accountable, and ensuring appropriate redress for those who face rights violations.
    • Example:
      • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about "impunity for crimes of violence against LGBT persons" and "the responsibility of the State to extend effective protection. The High Commissioner notes that "excluding LGBT individuals from these protections clearly violates international human rights law as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all."
  • Additional Recommendations: The Principles set out 16 additional recommendations to national human rights institutions, professional bodies, funders, NGOs, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN agencies, treaty bodies, Special Procedures, and others.
    • Example:
      • The Principles conclude by recognising the responsibility of a range of actors to promote and protect human rights and to integrate these standards into their work. A joint statement delivered at the United Nations Human Rights Council by 54 States from four of the five UN regions on 1 December 2006, for example, urges the Human Rights Council to "pay due attention to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" and commends the work of civil society in this area, and calls upon "all Special Procedures and treaty bodies to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity within their relevant mandates." As this statement recognises, and the Yogyakarta Principles affirm, effective human rights protection truly is the responsibility of all.

2017 Yogyakarta Principles plus 10

  • Preamble: The Preamble recalls developments in international human rights law, and an intention to regularly update the Principles. It defines gender expression and sex characteristics, applies these grounds to the original Principles, recognizes the intersectionality of the grounds adopted in the Principles, and their intersectionality with other grounds.
  • The Rights to State Protection: Principle 30 recognises the right to State protection from violence, discrimination and harm, including the exercise of due diligence in prevention, investigation, prosecution and remedies.
  • The Right to Legal Recognition: Principle 31 calls for a right to legal recognition without reference to sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, ending the superfluous inclusion of such information in identification documents.
  • The Right to Bodily and Mental Integrity: Principle 32 recognizes a right to bodily and mental integrity, autonomy and self-determination, including a freedom from torture and ill-treatment. It calls for no-one to be subjected to invasive or irreversible medical procedures to modify sex characteristics without their consent unless necessary to prevent urgent and serious harm.
  • The Right to Freedom from Criminalization and Sanction: Principle 33 recognizes a right to freedom from indirect or direct criminalization or sanction, including in customary, religious, public decency, vagrancy, sodomy and propaganda laws.
  • The Right to Protection from Poverty: Principle 34 calls for the right to protection from poverty and social exclusion.
  • The Right to Sanitation: Principle 35 calls on a right to safe and equitable access to sanitation and hygiene facilities.
  • The Right to the Enjoyment of Human Rights in Relation to Information and Communication Technologies: Principle 36 calls for the same protection of rights online as offline.
  • The Right to Truth: Principle 37 calls for the right to know the truth about human rights violations, including investigation and reparation unlimited by statutes of limitations, and including access to medical records.
  • The Right to Practise, Protect, Preserve and Revive Cultural Diversity: Principle 38 calls on the right to practise and manifest cultural diversity.
  • Additional State Obligations: the YP Plus 10 set out a range of additional obligations for States, including in relation to HIV status, access to sport, combating discrimination in prenatal selection and genetic modification technologies, detention and asylum, education, the right to health, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • Additional Recommendations: the Principles also set out recommendations for national human rights institutions and sporting organizations.