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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

22 - Psychology and the Global Human Rights Agenda on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

from Part III - Contemporary Issues in Psychology and Human Rights


This chapter describes psychological science’s contributions to the global rights agenda on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). First, we trace the historical stance taken in psychology on same-sex sexualities and on gender diversity, and how this positioning shaped how psychologists addressed (or did not address) SOGI concerns. Second, we examine how global rights entities such as the United Nations have engaged SOGI concerns. Third, we review four continuing challenges for SOGI-related human rights: (1) the persistent problem of LGBT pathologisation (including its manifestation in the form of so-called conversion therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts), (2) the increasing gap in the enjoyment of equal human rights for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other gender and sexual minority) individuals among people in different parts of the world, (3) the mobilization of human rights language against LGBT equality and diversity of gender identities and expressions, and (4) previously unrecognized concerns related to LGBT migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Finally, we analyze how psychology as an academic discipline, as a profession, and as an organized network of professional associations has contributed to and could help in furthering the protection and promotion of rights across the spectrum of human sexual and gender diversity.

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