Hivos International

Why Sexual Rights and Diversity

Almost everywhere in the world, people who do not conform to the heterosexual norm have a hard time. They are frequently discriminated against, excluded from society, threatened, persecuted or become victims of physical violence. People in power often reinforce the already disadvantaged social situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI) by publicly denying their rights and labelling them as outsiders. As a result, in many countries LGBTI-people do not have the same rights or opportunities as other citizens, just because of who they are. This greatly limits their access to employment or medical care, for example, and limits their possibilities to lead a fulfilling life.

Homosexuality is still punishable by law in 73 countries worldwide. Violence against LGBTI people continues to take place on a daily basis. Many people, and particularly young people, still lack access to sexuality education. Even if they do, they often do not have the possibility or the power to use that information and make decisions about their own bodies. This is particularly the case for (young) women and LGBTI people. 

In many countries, the position of women is comparable, particularly when it comes to their sexuality. Far too often, decisions about women’s bodies, pregnancies and sexuality are made without the women themselves having a say in them. The WHO an estimates 225 million women are unable to access contraceptives, and unsafe abortions still account for an estimated 47,000 maternal deaths each year.

Hivos was one of the first organisations that campaigned for sexual rights. We have always endeavoured to lend a hand to groups of people who fall by the wayside. Naturally, this includes LGBTI people, but also men who have sex with men (MSM) without considering themselves homosexual, and young people. Hivos has never been afraid to put the most controversial, politically and socially sensitive issues on the agenda. We believe that it is essential to address such issues if people are to have control over their own bodies, their sexual identity and their relationships.

Key Focal Areas

  • Hivos started working on HIV in the early 90’s, approaching the epidemic with a broad development and human rights perspective.

  • Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and services can be extremely challenging in low-and-middle-income countries.

  • Inequality is a global problem that equally affects the prospects of children and adults, men and women, gay and straight, healthy and disabled.