Yogyakarta Principles | reception


United Nations

The Principles have never been accepted by the United Nations and the attempt to make gender identity and sexual orientation new categories of non-discrimination has been repeatedly rejected by the General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies. In July 2010, Vernor Muñoz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, presented to the United Nations General Assembly an interim report on the human right to comprehensive sexual education, in which he cited the Yogyakarta Principles as a Human Rights standard.[20] In the ensuing discussion, the majority of General Assembly Third Committee members recommended against adopting the principles.[21] The Representative of Malawi, speaking on behalf of all African States argued that the report:

Reflected an attempt to introduce controversial notions and a disregard to the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders as outlined in Human Rights Council resolution 8/4. She expressed alarm at the reinterpretation of existing human rights instruments, principles and concepts. The report also selectively quoted general comments and country-specific recommendations made by treaty bodies and propagated controversial and unrecognized principles, including the so-called Yogyakarta Principles, to justify his personal opinion.[9]

Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of the Caribbean States members of CARICOM, argued that the special rapporteur "had chosen to ignore his mandate, as laid down in Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, and to focus instead on the so-called 'human right to comprehensive education.' Such a right did not exist under any internationally agreed human rights instrument or law and his attempts to create one far exceeded his mandate and that of the Human Rights Council."[22] The representative of Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab League, said that the Arab States were "dismayed" and accused the rapporteur of attempting to promote "controversial doctrines that did not enjoy universal recognition" and to "redefine established concepts of sexual and reproductive health education, or of human rights more broadly".[23] The Russian Federation expressed "its disappointment and fundamental disagreement with the report," writing of the rapporteur:

As justification for his conclusions, he cited numerous documents which had not been agreed to at the intergovernmental level, and which therefore could not be considered as authoritative expressions of the opinion of the international community. In particular, he referred to the Yogyarkarta Principles and also to the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. Implementation of various provisions and recommendations of the latter document would result in criminal prosecution for such criminal offences as corrupting youth.[24]

Regional institutions

The Council of Europe states in "Human Rights and Gender Identity"[25] that Principle 3 of the Yogyakarta Principles is "of particular relevance". They recommend that member states "abolish sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment as a necessary legal requirement to recognise a person's gender identity in laws regulating the process for name and sex change," (V.4) as well as to "make gender reassignment procedures, such as hormone treatment, surgery and psychological support, accessible for transgender persons, and ensure that they are reimbursed by public health insurance schemes." (V.5) Similarly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a document titled "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity" on 23 March 2010,[26] describing the prejudice that "homosexuality is immoral" as a "subjective view usually based on religious dogma that, in a democratic society, cannot be a basis for limiting the rights of others." The document argued that the belief that "homosexuality is worsening the demographic crisis and threatening the future of the nation" is "illogical," and that "granting legal recognition to same-sex couples has no influence on whether heterosexuals marry or have children."[26]

National institutions

However, the Principles have been cited by numerous national governments and court judgments.[27] The principles influenced the proposed UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2008.[28]

Human rights and LGBT-rights groups took up the principles, and discussion has featured in the gay press,[29] as well as academic papers and text books (see bibliography).

In a unanimous decision in May 5, 2011, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court became the first supreme court in the world to recognize same-sex civil unions as a family entity equal in rights to a heterosexual one, as certified by UNESCO,[30] expressly citing the Yogyakarta Principles as a significant legal guideline:[31]

It is important to point out, for relevant, that this examination is in line with the Yogyakarta Principles, that translates recommendations addressed to the national States, as a result of a conference held in Indonesia, in November 2006, under the coordination of the International Commission of Jurists and the International Service for Human Rights. This Charter of Principles on the application of international human rights regarding sexual and gender identity has, in its text, the Principle 24, the wording of which is as follows: THE RIGHT TO CONSTITUTE FAMILY (...).


A US-based Christian think tank, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, claimed that the Principles could devalue the concept of the family and parental authority, could be used to restrict freedom of speech.[28][32]