World Association For Sexual Health

Sexual health and sexual rights for all.

WAS promotes sexual health through the world by developing and supporting sexology and sexual rights for all. Our membership represents thousands of experienced and trainee sexologists from a variety of disciplines.

WAS Statement about human rights and accessing abortion services in the United States of America

The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) is highly concerned about legal initiatives in the United States that are jeopardizing women’s right to accessing safe abortion services, affecting the equality and health of those who may get pregnant, particularly the most marginalized.

Several States, including Texas and Mississippi has passed laws that make it harder for women to access needed sexual and reproductive health care. The burdens imposed by these laws fall hardest on those who already face barriers to health care, especially black, indigenous and other people of color, adolescents, poor and other vulnerable populations.

These laws are in violation of the US constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 (Roe v. Wade, 1973) and international human rights standards related to sexual and reproductive health. WAS is concerned that State Actors of the USA are failing to act in protecting women’s health and rights in relation to accessing safe abortion. The impact of these initiatives, the failure of the State to terminate these initiatives and to stop the further development of such legal initiatives is detrimental to people’s health and the enjoyment of their sexual and human rights. 

Based on the Sexual rights declaration (2014) which states,

  • The right to equality and non-discrimination (declaration point 1)

  • The right to autonomy and bodily integrity (declaration point 3))

  • The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (declaration point 4)

  • The right to privacy” (declaration point 6)

  • The right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health, with the possibility of pleasurable, satisfying and safe sexual experiences” (declaration point 7)

  • The right to information (declaration point 9)

  • The right to decide whether to have children, the number and spacing of children, and to have the information and the means to do so” (declaration point 12)

The World Association of Sexual Health:

REAFFIRMS that for health, including sexual and reproductive health to be attained and maintained, the rights of all women and those who may get pregnant to access safe abortions services must be respected, protected and fulfilled.

RECALLS the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) that are calling for the establishment of enabling regulatory and policy environment that is needed to ensure ready access to good-quality abortion services.

RECOGNIZES that people’s access to safe abortion services and the creation of supporting legal environment for accessing safe abortion services is a matter of sexual rights as human rights, the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality and non-discrimination of all human beings and include a commitment to protection from harm.

RECOGNIZES that all types of violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, and stigmatization in law and in practice related to the denial of safe abortion services are violations of human rights, and impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

WAS calls all State actors of the USA, including the Supreme Court and various federal and state courts, to ensure safe and accessible abortion services to all, and to end all legislative and other measures that jeopardizes people’s access to safe abortion services.

WAS is an international organization, that promotes and advocates for sexual health and sexual rights throughout the lifespan and across the world by advancing sexuality research, comprehensive sexuality education, and clinical care and services for everyone.

There is still time to access the content from the 25th Congress of WAS. It remains available to you until the end of  March 2022 through the WHOVA app.

 If you have not yet signed up for WAS 2021, you can still do so for only $50. Take advantage of this reduced rate and catch up on the content throughout December.

Click on this link:

Transgender Day of Rememberance


Today is the transgender day of remembrance. Those of us who belong to this group of indigenous people know that we have been and still are, discriminated and pathologized in many societies, and that this has been apt to take the dignity away from many of us.

The same forces of discrimination and pathologization have induced shame, depression and suicide among us. Likewise these attitudes have in outermost consequence justified hate-crimes against us.

Far too many transtalented and transgifted individuals have died from own or others’ hands because of this.

We shall always and especially today remember all those who have left us on grounds that do not reflect true humanity, but intentional or non-intentional evil.

We shall also remember all those whose life has been reduced in quality, whose talents were not cultivated, whose education was haltered, whose love life was dismissed, whose families rejected them, whose happiness was out of reach.

We shall encourage those who stand against us, to learn to know us and value our gendered talents that, when welcomed both by us who have them and by those around us, evolve into gifts for all.


Prof. Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad

WAS secretary of TGD affairs

August 10, 2021

WAS Statement concerning actions to support
gender diversity worldwide

The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS), formerly World Association for Sexology, recognizes that sexology is a developing field where theories and ideas are constantly evolving and changing while being subjected to scientific scrutiny. Moreover, WAS, has since its foundation, endeavoured to work within a human rights framework moving along with the times, seeking always to build respect towards different human communities such
as women, gay and lesbian individuals, members of the trans and gender diverse communities (TGD), and intersex individuals among other stigmatized and discriminated communities.

WAS has, along these lines, proclaimed its Declaration of Sexual Rights which: “STATES that equality and non-discrimination are foundational to all human rights protection and promotion and include the prohibition of any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, including disability, age, nationality, marital and family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, health status,
place of residence, economic and social situation.
RECOGNIZES that persons’ sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and bodily diversities require human rights protection”.

WAS’s member organizations have, over the years, worked consistently in producing evidence against the pathologization of TGD persons, as well as collaborating with other organizations on this task.

WAS, however, acknowledges:
• that it has not engaged sufficiently with TGD communities
• It has Invited speakers to its Congresses, whose theories about gender
development have been perceived as pathologizing, without sufficiently paying attention to narratives and theories shared by affected communities.
• Ignored some insights about the consequences of pathologizing practices for health and well-being of TGD persons.

In response to demands from both individuals, groups and organisations representing the TGD communities, WAS, intending to increase its knowledge of advances recently made in furthering the self-determination, dignity, and integrity of TGD people, called for a consultation.
Through this consultation:
• WAS recognizes the dignity and integrity of those of us who identify as TGD persons and the need to work with them, include their voices and recommendations to strengthen WAS as an inclusive organization where all people can feel recognized, respected, and included, along with their families, friends, and allies,
• Expresses its regret for having given access in some of its Congresses, to presenters whose opinions may be openly in conflict with the latest WPATH Standards of Care for TGD people. This may have contributed to strengthen the stigma, discrimination, and trauma that TGD persons have been and are subjected to,
• Realises that TGD people are still under attack and their lives remain at stake because of ideologies that exist within cultural, political, religious, and scientific contexts, which reinforce the pathologization and fetishization of TGD people in the medical and other professional fields.
• Recognises that contributions offered by the field of sexology carry potential to alleviate or perpetuate the marginalization of TGD communities. In the latter case, this may negatively affect efforts directed towards the protection and inclusion of TGD people, for instance, within state laws and affect efforts towards decriminalisation; non-discrimination; legal gender recognition; and equitable access to resources and opportunities as well as access to adequate gender affirming health care.

Therefore, WAS commits to:

A. Contextualise and address the need for research; resource; material and guidelines development; and stakeholder education on gender affirming care.
B. Consult with TGD representatives in its Scientific Committees on invitations, choice of presenter, and titles of invited lectures regarding TGD communities. Related to this, WAS has already changed the name of the Sexual and Gender Health Lecture.
C. Include, at least one individual from the TGD communities to assist in the review papers/abstracts relevant to issues and topics that may concern the community. WAS Scientific committees, will apply in Congresses and meetings, its standards of acceptance, including reconsideration of work which entails violation of human rights, unethical research, or lack of scientific rigor.

D. Promote improved community representation by strengthening policies and practices which can result in TGD persons being added to and enabled to optimally participate in the governance of WAS.
E. Acknowledge that there are organisations whose attitudes and policies represent a serious setback in access to health care for TGD persons. WAS therefore pledges to consult with organisations and networks of TGD individuals affiliated to WAS to provide scientific information that affirmingly connects with diverse experiences and constructive feedback that contributes towards transformative gender and human rights initiatives.
F. Endeavour to take an active stand in supporting events that recognize and affirm gender diversity beyond the cisgender gender binary system within regions where WAS, through its member-organizations, is present.
G. Commit to taking more active stances by issuing relevant statements on
discrimination, fetishization, pathologization, and unscientific ideologies concerning issues regarding gender diversities. These will be developed by the WAS Scientific, Sexual Rights, and Media Committees and other relevant Committees and task forces.


A. WAS will strive to support information and projects which inform critical knowledge systems and outputs, and which can potentially lead towards the desired inclusion and access to sexual health and the rights therein. As well as to disseminate information that supports initiatives directed to decriminalization efforts, access to health care, and the legal recognition of TGD persons in member countries affiliated to WAS.
B. WAS recognizes the importance of not misgendering and demeaning TGD persons regardless of what is indicated on an identity document and to this extent commits to continue aligning its organizational processes to recognize TGD persons using peoples’ preferred names and pronouns. This will be reflected on (online) registration forms, attendance registers, nametags, and other administrative forms for all its organizational processes including conferences and meetings. WAS will consult with local organizations and activists about the best practices to create and enabling environment by being conscious and sensitive about the way it actively
creates or maintains gender segregated spaces, including the use of toilet facilities at WAS organized meetings.
C. WAS is a global entity, that can influence, but not control and hence not ensure the safety and security of trans and gender diverse persons during their official travels to and from venues, especially in geo-politico-legal contexts that criminalize or do not legally recognize trans and gender diverse identities. However, WAS commits to prepare documentation in cooperation with the individuals in question, apt to assist safe travel.
D. WAS condemns any kind of conversion or reparative therapy.
E. WAS will continue to promote research, education, and training on the specific sexual and reproductive health needs of TGD community members.

Approved by the WAS Advisory Committee on August 10, 2021.


Sexual pleasure is the physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment derived from shared or solitary erotic experiences, including thoughts, fantasies, dreams, emotions, and feelings.

Self-determination, consent, safety, privacy, confidence and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexual relations are key enabling factors for pleasure to contribute to sexual health and well-being. Sexual pleasure should be exercised within the context of sexual rights, particularly the rights to equality and non-discrimination, autonomy and bodily integrity, the right to the highest attainable standard of health and freedom of expression. The experiences of human sexual pleasure are diverse and sexual rights ensure that pleasure is a positive experience for all concerned and not obtained by violating other people’s human rights and well-being (1)


1. The possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of discrimination, coercion, and violence is a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being for all;
2. Access to sources of sexual pleasure is part of human experience and subjective well-being;
3. Sexual pleasure is a fundamental part of sexual rights as a matter of human rights;
4. Sexual pleasure includes the possibility of diverse sexual experiences;
5. Sexual pleasure shall be integrated into education, health promotion and service delivery, research and advocacy in all parts of the world;
6. The programmatic inclusion of sexual pleasure to meet individuals’ needs, aspirations, and realities ultimately contributes to global health and sustainable development and it should require comprehensive, immediate and sustainable action.

URGE all governments, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, health and education authorities, the media, private sector actors, and society at large, and particularly, all member organizations of the World Association for Sexual Health to:

A. Promote sexual pleasure in law and policy as a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being, grounded in the principles of sexual rights as human rights, including self-determination, non-discrimination, privacy, bodily integrity, and equality;
B. Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education addresses sexual pleasure in an inclusive, evidence-informed and rights-based manner tailored to people’s diverse capacities and needs across the life span, in order to allow experiences of informed, self-determined, respectful, and safe sexual pleasure;
C. Guarantee that sexual pleasure is integral to sexual health care services provision, and that sexual health services are accessible, affordable, acceptable, and free from stigma, discrimination, and prosecution;
D. Enhance the development of rights-based, evidence-informed knowledge of the benefits of sexual pleasure as part of well-being, including rights-based funding resources, research methodologies, and dissemination of knowledge to address the role of sexual pleasure in individual and public health;
E. Reaffirm the global, national, community, interpersonal, and individual commitments to recognition of the diversity in sexual pleasure experiences respecting human rights of all people and supported by consistent, evidence-informed policy and practices, interpersonal behavior, and collective action.

The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) is a multidisciplinary, world-wide group of scientific societies, NGOs and professionals in the field of human sexuality which promotes sexual health throughout the lifespan and through the world by developing, promoting and supporting sexual health and sexual rights for all. WAS accomplishes this by advocacy actions, networking, facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences and advancing scientifically based sexuality research, sexuality education and clinical sexology, with a trans-disciplinary approach. The Declaration of Sexual Pleasure was originally proclaimed at the 24th World Congress of Sexual Health in Mexico City in 2019 and a final version was ratified by the General Assembly at the 25th World Congress of Sexual Health in Cape Town, South Africa in 2021.


(1)Adapted from: Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Wellbeing. (2016). Working definition of sexual pleasure. Retrieved from

Please send comments and/or help us to translate in your language:


Declaration on Sexual Pleasure 2021 English

Declaración sobre el Placer Sexual 2021 Spanish – Español








Declaration of Sexual Rights


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