Laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation are becoming more common in all parts of the world. Few of these laws provide useful definitions of the term sexual orientation. As a result, the meaning and impact of these laws remains unclear. This Article reviews past and current definitions of sexual orientation according to how well they incorporate current empirical knowledge of sexual orientation, and how their use in human rights laws impacts the dignity, right to equality, and human development of sexual minorities. The Article gives particular attention to the definition of sexual orientation found in the Yogyakarta Principles which has been adopted by a number of jurisdictions throughout the world. Because this definition views sexual orientation through a heteronormative lens, its use restricts sexual freedoms and undermines the dignity of individuals with non-confirming sexual orientations. The Article proposes a multidimensional definition of sexual orientation grounded in current scientific knowledge of how sexual orientation is manifested in the lives of sexual minorities.
Defining Sexual Orientation: A Proposal for a New Definition,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol29/iss1/2