Sexual Rights Recommendations at UPR34

Published on February 20, 2020

The 34th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held in Geneva, from November 4 to November 15, 2019.

Fourteen countries were reviewed during UPR34: Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, San Marino, and Slovenia

Adoption of UPR Outcomes: March 2020

The UPR outcome for each State reviewed during UPR34 will be adopted at the 43rd session of the HRC (March 2019). The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State agrees to implement and its responses to other recommendations. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The SRI, in collaboration with partners and allies, will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.

The intervening period is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with States on accepting relevant recommendations – and, at the same time, not accepting those recommendations that are inconsistent with human rights norms and standards. It is also a means for gaining the support of media and the general public.

Below are some sexual rights related highlights from each UPR34 review. Click here for the full list of recommendations made related to sexual rights, including State responses to date. 

Click here for the full list of UPR34 Sexual Rights Recommendations

Angola

Deferred Recommendations

  • Investigate promptly, fully, independently and impartially all allegations of attacks, arbitrary arrests and detentions of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity (Honduras);
  • Bring its legislation, including Article 158 of the Penal Code, in line with Article 14 (2c) of the Maputo Protocol on access to abortion (Denmark);
  • Amend the Penal Code to decriminalize abortion in all cases, enhance access for women to inclusive health-care services by trained personnel and ensure that all women and girls have access to affordable and modern forms of contraception (Iceland);
  • Continue with the “Together against Pregnancy and Early Marriage in Angola” and increase support to ensure that girls continue in school even if they are pregnant (Mexico);
  • Legally prohibit all harmful practices including child and forced marriage, dowry, polygamy, levirate marriage that is especially present in rural areas of the country (Slovenia);

    Bolivia

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Promote gender equality by legalizing marriage, civil unions and adoption for same-sex couples (France);
    • Swiftly finalize the National Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health for the years 2018–2020 and to consider extending the plan beyond 2020. When finalized, adequate resources should be allocated for the effective implementation of the plan (Finland);
    • Strengthen monitoring system of maternal mortality and morbidity with emphasis on indigenous women and implement policies to eliminate obstetric violence before the next cycle (Colombia);
    • Continue making progress in the implementation of the Unified Health System, incorporating a gender-based approach that includes attention to women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including through the adoption of the necessary measures to eliminate existing obstacles to access voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the already legally allowed cases (Uruguay);
    • Fully implement the decision of the Constitutional Court to abolish the requirements to obtain judicial authorisation in order to undergo legal abortion and continue to remove all barriers to ensure the effective, timely and affordable access to a safe and legal abortion (Fiji);
    • Reform the Criminal Code to decriminalize abortion and ensure that women and girls who request or obtain an abortion, as well as doctors who practice it, are not subject to punishment (Luxembourg);

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Ensure full implementation of laws related to wartime victims of rape and sexual violence; so that the status of victims of wartime torture be insured equally to all victims throughout the territory and jurisdiction of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Finland);
    • Pass and implement laws that would recognize same-sex partnerships and define the rights and obligations of co-habitating couples in same-sex unions (Iceland);
    • Guarantee media freedom and the protection of journalists and media workers, especially women, notably by ensuring the appropriate judicial follow-up to cases of threats and violence against them (Austria);
    • Introduce education on human rights and gender equality, as well as comprehensive sexuality education for children and young persons in the formal and non-formal education system (Iceland);

    Egypt

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Expand the programs for reproductive health and family planning to reach the rural areas and introduce integrated reproductive health package for women (Maldives);
    • Integrate comprehensive, age-appropriate education on reproductive health and life skills into the national educational curricula and ensure the necessary resources and training for its full and effective implementation, in accordance with the National Strategy for Population and Development (Fiji);
    • Introduce legal provisions to combat rape, including marital rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, in accordance with international standards (Luxembourg);
    • Criminalise all forms of sexual violence against women, including marital rape, and revises the personal status law to allow for civil marriages and divorce (Australia);
    • Enact laws and public policies in order to eradicate female genital mutilation, and criminalize sexual harassment and violence against girls, adolescents and women (Costa Rica);

    El Salvador

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Follow through on 2018 efforts to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape or human trafficking; sexual abuse of a minor; risk to the health or life of the pregnant woman; or fatal fetal diagnosis, and enhance equal access to sexual and reproductive health services, in particular for adolescents (Canada);
    • Increase access to sexual and reproductive health services, giving priority to sexual education, dissemination and access to contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception, in areas with high rates of sexual violence (Mexico);
    • Adopt a medical performance protocol to address cases of women facing obstetric emergencies, that includes a clause on professional confidentiality bringing security to medical personnel in order for them to practice all necessary medical procedures to protect the life and health of women without being prosecuted criminally (Uruguay);
    • Ensure comprehensive sexuality education at all levels, with updated information from a human rights perspective for the prevention of teenage pregnancies (Honduras);
    • Amend its anti-abortion legislation to remove the obligation of health professionals and public officials to report women to the police based on a suspicion of abortion (New Zealand);
    • Adopt the necessary legislative measures to prevent women from being criminalized for experiencing miscarriage and to ensure that women do not face disproportionate sanctions due to obstetric emergencies (Colombia);

    Fiji

    Accepted Recommendations

    • Fight against discrimination against LGBTI people, including regarding access to health services and HIV treatment, by adequately training health professionals (France);
    • Legalize voluntary termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, grave deformation of the foetus or risks to the health or life of the mother (Mexico);
    • Revise the current Family Life Education curriculum to comply with the revised UN International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education, guarantee its implementation throughout the national school system and provide ongoing professional development for teachers to ensure they are equipped to teach it (Iceland);
    • Enforce the prohibition of child marriage, prohibit all forms of pressure on victims of rape to marry perpetrators and increase efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators and accomplices in cases of child marriage (Belgium);

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Make more decisive actions in adapting legislation, including prosecution and adequately punishment of perpetrators in charge of discrimination, hate speech and violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women (Montenegro);

    Gambia

    Accepted Recommendations

    • Eliminate the legal discrimination of women, guarantee the effective application of the law prohibiting domestic violence and the law on sexual crimes as well as decriminalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy and ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW (Spain);
    • Continue implementing measures such as the National Gender and Women Empowerment Policy (2010–2020), with a view to combatting problems faced by women and girls to access their rights on an equal footing with men, including in relation to access to rights to property, reproductive rights, and protection against violence and discrimination (Uruguay);
    • Remove all severe restrictions and discrimination, in law and in practice, on full enjoyment of human rights for women and girls to ensure their equal access and equal rights with men, including the right to land ownership, the right to education and reproductive rights (Myanmar);
    • Increase efforts to reduce and prevent maternal morbidity and mortality by implementing programs and policies, as well as ensure adequate sexual and reproductive health services (Angola);

    Noted Recommendations

    • Amend legislation to decriminalize abortion in all circumstances as well as ensure that safe and legal abortion services and post-abortion care are available (Iceland);
    • Deepen efforts to combat acts of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons by repealing all discriminatory norms and by guaranteeing the investigation and punishment of all acts of violence against LGTIBQ persons (Argentina);

    Iran

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Repeal relevant articles of the penal code, including those that impose the death penalty and flogging for offences related to consensual same-sex conducts between adults, with a view to fully decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults (Iceland);
    • Provide information and education for young people on reproductive health in schools, in line with international standards (Iceland);
    • Repeal article 1108 of the Civil Code that compelled wives to always satisfy the husband’s sexual needs (Argentina);
    • Criminalize gender-based violence, including domestic violence and marital rape (Uruguay);
    • Modify the legislation on the minimum age to marry and to consent to sexual relations in accordance with international standards, and adopt all necessary measures to end child marriages (Ecuador);
    • Take urgent action to improve the protection of human rights defenders, including those defending women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of human rights (Sweden);

    Iraq

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Adopt the draft law on domestic Violence in line with international standards, excluding the possibility for the perpetrator of a rape to marry the victim (Belgium);
    • Investigate and end violence against and killings of LGBTI people and develop and implement public awareness campaigns directed at changing harmful attitudes towards LGBTI persons (Iceland);
    • Ensure full enjoyment of the right of women to access specific educational information in order to ensure health and wellbeing of their families, including information and advice on family planning (North Macedonia);
    • Set up a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based crimes committed in the name of “honour” (Timor-Leste);
    • Prevent and eradicate harmful practices that discriminate against women and girls, including early, “temporary” and forced marriages, and female genital mutilation, by raising public awareness about their negative effects (Maldives);

    Italy

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Include sexual orientation as a ground for protection against hate speech (Belgium);
    • Ensure the free exercise of women's sexual and reproductive rights, by ensuring access to legal services for interruption of pregnancy, minimizing the impact of conscientious objections in the exercise of this human right (Uruguay);
    • Take the necessary measures to ensure effective access to abortion (France);
    • Proceed with the discussion in Parliament on Article 13 of D.D.L. 405 that includes a ban on unnecessary, non-consensual normalizing surgeries on intersex individuals (Netherlands);
    • Encourage women to report all incidents of violence, especially domestic and sexual violence, to law enforcement bodies by destigmatizing victims, sensitizing the police and the judiciary, raising awareness about the criminal nature of such acts and ensuring that women have effective access to civil courts to obtain restraining orders against abusive partners (Belgium);

    Kazakhstan

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Amend the article on Violations of the Equality of People and Citizens (article 145) of the Criminal Code to explicitly and separately include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected characteristics (Belgium);
    • Incorporate comprehensive sexuality education in the school curriculum at all levels of schooling and out of school settings (Iceland);
    • Make necessary amendments to the Criminal Code to ensure that perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence do not enjoy impunity based on so-called ‘reconciliation’ with the victim (Sweden);
    • Revise the criminal code to ensure that the definition of rape is in line with international standards (Iceland);
    • Criminalize all forms of violence against women (Republic of Moldova);

    Madagascar

    Accepted Recommendations

    • Strengthen measures to combat discrimination and violence against women including through the implementation of relevant laws, eliminating any loopholes in national legislation that might undermine the protection of women's rights and addressing discriminatory stereotypes that affect women (Rwanda);
    • Adopt legislation to criminalize all acts of violence against women, specifically domestic violence, including marital rape, child and/or forced marriage and all forms of sexual abuse (Ukraine);
    • Ensure that all women and girls have access to information, services and education on sexual and reproductive health, including comprehensive sexuality education (Canada);

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Ensure all women and girls can access sexual and reproductive health information, services and commodities, including emergency contraception and other modern methods of contraception, as well as comprehensive sexuality education both in and out of school (Iceland);
    • Strengthen the rights of girls and women through combatting early marriage, providing assistance for school attendance and legalizing abortion in all circumstances. Ensure that women and girls who resort to abortion, as well as doctors who perform them, are not subject to criminal sanctions (France).

    Noted Recommendations

    • Decriminalize abortion in all circumstances and remove legal, administrative and practical barriers to accessing safe and legal abortion services (Iceland);

    San Marino

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Enact general legislation on the recognition of both same-sex parents involved in the growth of a child as well as extending access to adoption to same-sex couples on par with others (Iceland);
    • Include gender identity as a ground of discrimination in articles 90 and 179bis of the criminal code and promote public awareness of diversity and respect for sexual orientation and the gender identity of all persons, especially through human rights education and awareness raising campaigns (Luxembourg);
    • Continue to work towards the respect of sexual and reproductive rights by ensuring the decriminalization of abortion in all situations, and in the meantime authorizing a minimum of abortion services to preserve the physical and mental health of women or in case of fatal fetal abnormality, rape or incest (France);
    • Ensure the full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including by legalizing abortions (Germany);
    • Eliminate criminal sanctions against women and girls in cases of voluntary abortion and eliminate all barriers that currently hinder access to legal, affordable, and timely termination of pregnancy (Iceland);

    Slovenia

    Accepted Recommendations

    • Revise the legal definition of rape in the Criminal Code so that it is based on the lack of consent rather than force, coaction or physical threat (Chile);

    Deferred Recommendations

    • Ensure the full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into domestic law, withdraw its reservations to articles 2, 9, 15, as well as 16, and furthermore ratify the Optional Protocol. (Liechtenstein)
    • Develop and implement anti-discrimination laws and government policies to address discrimination, particularly against individuals within the LGBTI community and women, including through improving access to marriage, divorce and child custody rights. (Australia)
    • Strengthen measures to further address discrimination against women in law and in practice including through reviewing laws, customs and practices that may constitute discrimination against women and girls. (Rwanda)
    • Criminalize domestic violence, including by introducing a definition which would contain also protection for domestic workers. (Slovenia)
    • Reform laws that discriminate against women and girls to ensure that all legislation and policies, including the family law, the laws regulating sexual and reproductive health, laws relating to the authority of guardians over women, and laws relating to inheritance and nationality, conform to international human rights law and standards. (Sweden)
    • Amend the Law of the Family No. 22 to ensure non-discrimination and equal access to all fields of society for women. (Denmark)

    Click here for the full list of UPR34 Sexual Rights Recommendations