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Sexual education, healthcare services are basic human rights

Health Opinion
 A book on sexual education. [Getty Images]

Diversity encompasses various aspects such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, socioeconomic status, physical ability, and cultural background, among others. In essence, diversity acknowledges and celebrates the differences that exist among individuals and groups, recognising that each person brings unique perspectives, experiences, and strengths to the table. To ensure that we create an inclusive environment where all individuals are valued, respected, and given equal opportunities to contribute and thrive, we must embrace diversity.

This year's theme for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia, and Transphobia is "No one left behind: Equality, freedom, and Justice for all!", emphasises the urgent need for inclusive societies where every person can live authentically without fear of discrimination or persecution.

Recently, many countries have been envisioning a world where everyone has access to quality sexual and reproductive health education, information, and services. Therefore, we need to collectively advocate for more than just tolerance; we need to advocate for acceptance and celebration of diversity.

Individuals in all their diversity, should feel safe and empowered to openly express their identities and love, free from judgment or condemnation. Central to this vision is the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) within equitable and gender-just frameworks.

Combat stigma

Although we live in a conservative world, there is a need to increase awareness about the importance of SRHR for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. Access to comprehensive sexual education and healthcare services are not a privilege but a fundamental human right. Yet, stigma and discrimination often hinder marginalised communities, including LGBTQI+ individuals, from accessing these essential services. 

Secondly, we need to combat stigma and discrimination by challenging stereotypes, prejudices, and discriminatory practices that perpetuate inequality. Moreover, we must advocate for policy changes that protect the rights of marginalised groups. Inclusive policies not only safeguard SRHR but also foster an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. Additionally, advocacy efforts aimed at policy change have the potential to transform legal frameworks, ensuring the protection of SRHR for all individuals.

With comprehensive sexuality education, youth-friendly services, and safe spaces, young people will be empowered with the knowledge, agency, and confidence to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives. When young people are empowered, they become catalysts for change, driving societal progress toward greater acceptance and inclusivity.

The theme “No one left behind: Equality, freedom, and justice for all!” means that we must uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. Only through collective action can we truly achieve equality, freedom, and justice for all.

Ms Kathia, a communications specialist, is a human rights defender

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