State Regulation of Sexuality in International Human Rights Law and Theory
Aaron Xavier Fellmeth
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 50, 2008
In Part I, this Article presents the first published, worldwide survey of international practice in interpreting and applying various international human rights norms to the issue of sexual freedom, with a special emphasis on the rights to privacy, family life, and freedom from arbitrary discrimination based on sexual orientation. In Part II, the Article analyzes the rationales adopted by state elites for accepting or denying equal rights to sexual minorities and discerns a trend toward a complex approach of sometimes applying libertarian theories of human rights law, sometimes applying increasingly nuanced nondiscrimination norms, and sometimes using both approaches at once. Countervailing pressures, especially widespread religious opposition to the recognition of equal human rights, as well as the problems of using libertarian theories, are explored. The Article further discusses the limits of the role that international human rights law has played in the evolution of state practice on this subject and explains how international human rights law is balanced unstably between the incomplete application of human rights to sexual minorities and the disadvantages of logical and theoretical inconsistency in human rights doctrine. It concludes by observing how the case of evolving human rights in this field illustrates the potential power of ideational norms in shaping state expectations and behavior.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 140
Keywords: Sexual minorities, international human rights, discriminationAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 17, 2009
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