A Vision of Sexual Rights


Participants will:

1. Evaluate the rights described in the Declaration of Sexual Rights approved by the World Association for Sexual Health.

2. Identify which of these rights are commonly denied to seniors in the United States.

3. Recommend specific changes that may need to occur if older adults are to have the sexual rights that are important for them.


In 1999, the World Association for Sexuality (now called the World Association for Sexual Health) adopted a Declaration of Sexual Rights. The preface to the Declaration states that “sexuality is an integral part of the personality of every human being” and “depends upon the satisfaction of basic human needs such as the desire for contact, intimacy, emotional expression, pleasure, tenderness, and love.”*

Surely the Declaration is controversial; many social customs as well as religious traditions conflict with its broad definition of sexual rights. For this very reason, an examination of the Declaration may challenge unexamined beliefs and provide individuals with an opportunity to clarify their own values and/or develop a new system of sexual values — particularly as they pertain to people in midlife and beyond.

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