Published in November of 2006 as an outcome of an international meeting of experts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of human rights standards and their application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The principles were developed by a panel of human rights experts in the domain of gender and sexuality, who represented their individual countries.

The principles recognise that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. It affirms that sexual orientation and gender identity constitute an integral part of human dignity. In the spirit of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principles recognise that all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated.

The principles are motivated by a range of human rights violations committed against persons because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Furthermore, they recognise that gender-based violence and gender inequality are persistent around the world due to gender and sexual orientation norms enforced through custom, law, and violence.

The Yogyakarta document can be divided into three parts beginning with the Preamble, followed by the 29 Principles, and the recommendations.


The preamble acknowledges that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice have been directed against persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity across the world, historically and today. These experiences are compounded by persistent discrimination.

Furthermore, the preamble defines ‘sexual orientation’ and gender identity, as follows:

Sexual Orientation: each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender;

Gender Identity: each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.


The principles cover a range of human rights, including:

  1. Universal Application of Human Rights:

    Principles 1-2 outline the universal application of human rights and the entitlement to enjoy such human rights and equality before the law without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Principle 3 acknowledges the right of every individual to be recognised as a person before the law and states that no-one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity.

  2. Right to Life, Liberty, Security and Privacy:

    Principles 4-7 outline the fundamental rights to life, liberty, security, privacy and freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty that are conferred on all human beings irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity.

  3. Right to Fair Trial, Freedom from Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

    Principles 8-10 outline the rights that all humans are entitled to when facing prosecution by the State: the rights to a fair trial, to treatment with humanity while in detention and the right to be freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Again, these rights are enjoyed by all and no one is to be deprived of such a right because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  4. Right to Protection from Sale and Trafficking of Human Beings, from Exploitation

    Principle 11 outlines the right to protection from the sale and trafficking of human beings, and all forms of exploitation, on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

  5. Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

    Principles 12-18 outline further fundamental rights that are not to denied to anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These are the right to work, to social security and other social protection measures, to an adequate standard of living, to adequate housing, to education, to the highest attainable standard of health, and to protection from medical abuses.

  6. Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Assembly

    Principles 19-21 focus on the on the human right to freedom of speech that may not be violated on the grounds of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. They provide that all people have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

  7. Freedom of Movement

    Principles 22 and 23 state that all individuals have the right to move and reside freely within the borders of the State and to seek asylum from prosecution in other countries.

  8. Right to Family, to participate in Public Life

    Principles 24-26 focus on private and public life. They provide that everyone has the right to found a family, to participate in public life and to participate in cultural life. These rights, like all the others, are universal and not to be denied to anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  9. Right to Promote Human Rights

    Principle 27 outlines the right to promote human rights which include activities directed towards the promotion and protection of the rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as the right to develop and discuss new human rights norms and to advocate their acceptance.

  10. Right to Remedy

    Principles 28 and 29 provide for the right to effective remedies and redress, and accountability if any of the above-outlined principles are violated.


The principles impose a duty on the state to embody the above-mentioned principles by amending existing legislation to ensure its effective realisation, repeal legal provisions that prohibit its enjoyment and integrate a pluralistic approach to human identity within state policies. States are also obligated to adopt measures to educate citizens about gender and sexuality through public awareness programs.


The recommendations provide additional 16 principled guidelines to hold that all members of society and of the international community have responsibilities regarding the realisation of human rights. The additional recommendations are focused upon the need for international and regional entities to participate, in order to realise the principles.


The signatories to the Yogyakarta Principles included Miloon Kothari of India, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Asthma Jahangir, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Sunil Pant, President of the Blue Diamond Society in Nepal. However in spite of this, these Principles do not hold the status of law in South Asia, rather they are principles that the governments and courts can aspire to follow, as the Supreme Court of India chose to do in 2014.


The Yogyakarta Principles +10 supplements the 2006 Principles. Read about the Yogyakarta +10 here.