Sexual Rights and How They Are Applies Transnationally Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2283 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

¶ … sexual rights"? This is a questions that might seems simple to answer at first but really opens a quagmire of debate and confusions. What might be key to the sexual rights of one Country, might be a moot point in another. Before attempting to define "sexual rights," it is important to understand the meaning of the term "rights" as I will discuss them within this essay. Interpretation of rights can be thought of as fitting into one of three different categories. The first category of "rights" can be thought of as the demand for legal and political equality of all citizens within a state. Thus all the laws within that given state should lead to equal treatment to any and all individuals within the state. The second way of approaching "rights" would be from the perspective of what might be deemed "specific rights." This refers to a demand by a specific minority group to be assured laws and protection from the majority due to their apparent minority. The last way of comprehending rights is that of hegemonic articulation, whereby a specific demand appears out of the specific needs of a specific group but does so as part of a political battle that is devoted to more universal projects or goals. Thus, it is clear that the term "rights" may have different meanings relative to the individual or group being referred to and on which context.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Sexual Rights and How They Are Applies Transnationally Assignment

For the purpose of this essay, I will look at how "sexual rights" are used in relation to homosexual marriage to negate the rights of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) identified individuals. Sexual rights for this essay are defined by me as: "The right to sexual autonomy in the sex they feel most correctly identifies themselves; the right to sexual partner preference, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual Rights include the right to information; the right to safety from discrimination; and the right to corporal autonomy. Also, the right for all individuals, regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or health status, to make choices on their own sexuality and reproductive rights. These rights include the right to have access to information and services necessary to support and optimize health, and the right to pursue a safe, satisfying, and pleasurable sexual life."

This definition however, runs into problems when applied transnationally. For the purpose of this essay, I will look at how the written laws of a country as they relate to marriage work to limit and negate the sexual rights of the LGB individual within the three aforementioned communities. This essay will also examine how these issues surrounding marriage limit the sexual rights of queer individuals as defined above in three different countries; Japan, Zimbabwe and the United States.


In Japan, same sex relationships are not socially recognized despite the fact that homosexuality is legal. The traditional religions in Japan do not have precise prohibitions in opposition to homosexuality. The first criminalization of sodomy in Japan was in the early 1870s after the introduction of western culture. This law was then repealed a few years later (Ottosson 36). Following this, Japan never introduced a law prohibiting homosexuality. Thus sex between two consenting adults, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender, and within the private sphere, is legal. However, the civil rights laws of Japan do not include protection from discrimination on grounds of gender identity or sexual orientation (Ottosson 36). Therefore, an LGB individual can be denied services such as employment or social amenities on grounds of being gay. Since this descrimintation does not defy any written civil rights, LGB individuals is not supported by the law if they were to try and make a criminal court case (Ottosson 45). Although the rights of these individuals are not explicitly limited by a written law, they are effectively limited by the lack of written laws to protect these individuals.

Another issue that was that is still under discussion is that of same-sex marriages. Currently, only heterosexual marriages are recognized and can have a marriage license issued. However, there are reports that the justice ministry has plans to approve same-sex marriages for individuals who have citizenship in countries that allow gay marriage (Ottosson 48). This highlights a very large concern when it comes to homosexual rights as written in to law in Japan. If you are a homosexual who has the socioeconomic and political connections to gain dual citizenship in a country such as Canada where same sex marriage is legal, than you are allowed to have your same sex union recognized in Japan. However, if you do not have these connections, your same-sex union is not recognized under the laws of marriage. Even though homosexuality is not explicitly illegal, certain rights and freedoms that I outlined in my definition of sexual rights are not applicable in Japan. What it seems is not being taken into account with my definition as it applies to Japan, is how sexual rights as they apply to a queer identity intersect with money and political connections.

The United States

The United States of America is often thought of as one of the more liberal territories towards LGB people in comparison to countries such as Zimbabwe. However, LGB members within the U.S. are still faced with legal challenges not experienced by citizens who do not identify as LGB. There are a few states that have formally legalized same-sex marriage, however a large number of them still define it as being illegal. This is despite the fact that sex between individuals of the same sex, according to state law, is legal nationwide (Ottosson 48). Unlike in Japan, there are many states that officially outlaw discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Federal law also punishes hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation (Ottosson 50).

A close look at the American laws on LGB rights indicate that homosexual acts are legal in most American states, but legal union of same-sex couples in marriage is still not legally accepted in most States (Ottosson 48 ). One major problem with this in an American context is how the non-recognition of a legal marriage connects with adoption. When a same-sex couple wants to try to adopt a child, they are forced to apply as a "single" parent household (Ottosson 41). This places the same sex couple much further down the adoption priority list, despite their being two people who are actually going through the adoption process. There are reports that same-sex couple adoption may soon be legal in Mexico City (Ottosson 46). However the issue remains that even a country within North America, a supposed leader in pioneering queer rights, still does not apply sexual rights equally, and uses marriage as a way to limit rights. America uses its written laws to both limit same-sex partners' marital rights, as well as limits their capabilities to participate in the nuclear family by making adoption difficult for them.


The last country under consideration is Zimbabwe. Many laws surround sexual rights date back to the Rhodesian and British colonial rule. The LGB rights in this country are subjugated by the fact that male homosexuality is illegal. Unlike Japan and American who have more recently passed laws to create rights for the LGB community, the government in Zimbabwe has carried out campaigns opposing homosexuality in both women and men (Mandigo 1). The common law prohibits such acts as sodomy and any that is categorized as "unnatural offence" (Mandigo 1). This law defines sodomy as an "unlawful and intentional sexual relations between two human males" and an unnatural offence is defined as "unlawful and intentional commission of an unnatural sexual act by one person with another person" (Mandigo 1). There have been several attempts by the government to harass gay people in the country the creation and implementation of laws that further limit their rights. These laws include the prohibition of queer identified individual(s) from importing, distributing, publishing, or keeping for sale of any publication which is considered undesirable, meaning that has a queer positive focus. As well, laws have been passed that make any actions identified as "homosexual" a criminal offence. These homosexual acts have grown to include two persons of the same sex that hug, hold hands, or kiss. These laws have come to include these activities more recently, where as in years past, these laws were limited to sexual activity. The laws in Zimbabwe are only becoming stricter and limiting of queer rights and freedom, criminalizing any act that would be regarded by a reasonable person as indecent (Engelke, 300).

The passing of such tough laws have been driven by the current president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who has been very active in campaigning against LGB rights and has publicly spoken against homosexuality, despite worldwide criticisms for his comments. He seems to be using the LGB community as a scape goat, blaming the problems within the country on the LGB people (Mandigo 1). This has led to these… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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