“Sexuality is one of the biggest parts of who we are” – Carla Gugino (American actress)

Sexuality is part of every person’s life, and is much more than sexual desire and activity. Sexuality can be a source of great pleasure and meaning in life. People are sexual beings and sexuality is experienced in thoughts, feelings, experiences and practices. Sexuality can be expressed in many ways, like through the clothes people wear, the way they behave or talk, what they say and how they say it, and what they do with other people, the relationships they choose to have, their fantasies, desires, and attitudes towards sexuality. Sexuality is influenced by several things including:

  • Biology: Hormones can influence one’s sexuality

  • Personality: One’s experiences can influence sexuality

  • Culture: Cultural norms and values greatly influence people’s attitude and behaviour related to sexuality

  • Laws and policies: put strict rules on what is allowed and what is not allowed in a country concerning sexuality. Laws and policies may also be influenced by cultural norms


Sexual diversity

Sexual diversity is an important part of sexuality. Although the term “sexual diversity” can apply to many different aspects of sexuality (for example people are diverse in terms of their sexual likes and dislikes), it is usually used with respect to sexual orientation (i.e. to what gender(s) someone is attracted to) and gender identity (i.e. how you feel about and express your own gender).

There is a lot of diversity as people feel attracted to someone of a different sex from their own, the same sex, or all. Even though not all cultures and societies accept this diversity (for example, same sex relationships), people experience different desires in all cultures, societies, families and religions. Those who do not meet the norms of the societies they live in, can experience different forms of stigma, discrimination and discrimination. It is also important to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity range along a continuum, which means that we don’t always fit into neat and specific boxes of ‘male’ or ‘female’ and/or ‘heterosexual’, or ‘homosexual’, or ‘bisexual’.

Several terms of sexual diversity are:

Homosexuality: People being attracted to people of the same sex

Heterosexuality: People being attracted to people of a different sex

Bisexuality: People being attracted to people from both sexes

Asexuality: People not being sexually attracted to any sex, but they could have romantic feelings

Have you heard of the acronym LGBTQI? It is a reflection of sexual diversity within society.

L is for lesbian. Lesbian refers a female person whose primary sexual attraction is toward females.

G is for Gay. Gay refers to a male person whose primary sexual attraction is toward males. It can also be used as an adjective for the wider LGBTQI community, for instance: ‘gay pride’ or ‘gay community’.

B is for Bisexual. Bisexual refers to a male or female person who is sexually attracted to both males and females.

T is for Transgender and/or Transsexual. Transgender refers to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. A Transgender person usually has been/is in ‘transition’ from one gender into another. Transsexual refers to a person whose gender identity is the opposite of their biological sex or the sex they were born with.

Q is for Queer or Questioning. Some people refer to themselves as Queer because they are uncomfortable labelling themselves according to the more traditional categories of gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Queer is often used as a political identity. A person who is Questioning is in the process of arriving at a clearer sense of what their sexual orientation is.

I is for Intersex. This is a person who is born with both male and female genitals or with genitals that are ambiguous, and can choose which sex they most identify with. This is unfortunately not the case in most scenario’s, as doctors decide with parents what sex the newborn should have. Often people discover their Intersex birth state later in life.

It is a human right that you can choose who you want to start a relationship with, no matter the sex of your partner. As long as the relationship is consensual, which means that it is voluntary and wanted by both partners.

You practice!

Have a look at your sexual rights below and try to give a personal example with each of these rights! How do these rights play a role in your personal life?

  • Receive the highest attainable standard of health in relation to sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services

  • Seek and make known information in relation to sexuality

  • Receive comprehensive sexuality education

  • Have respect for bodily integrity and autonomy

  • Have a free choice of partner

  • Decide to be sexually active or not

  • Have consensual sexual relations

  • Have consensual marriage

  • Decide whether or not and when to have children

  • Pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life