Published February 28, 2022 | Version v1
Journal article Open

CEDAW and the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships

  • 1. LSE Centre for Women, Peace & Security


Rosanna Flamer-Caldera—a lesbian, human rights activist and Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation that campaigns for LGBTI+ rights in Sri Lanka—claimed before the CEDAW Committee that the criminalisation of lesbian sexual conduct has caused her to experience discrimination, harassment, stigmatisation, and abuse. In an opinion in March 2022 the CEDAW Committee found the state to be in violation of CEDAW art.2(a) and (c)- (g)art.5(a)art.7(c)art.15(1), and art.16. The Committee made a number of specific recommendations to redress the individual’s situation and some more general recommendations that seek to have transformative impact within the state. This article discusses the opinion in that case, which is the first to have been brought through the individual communication process to a UN human rights treaty body concerning criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct between women. It compares the case with the 1994 opinion in Toonen v Australia , where the Human Rights Committee found the criminalisation of consensual same-sex male conduct to be in violation of the ICCPR and considers the contribution of the opinion to the "queering of international law".


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in European Human Rights Law Review following peer review. The definitive published version Christine Chinkin & Keina Yoshida (2022) "CEDAW and the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships," European Human Rights Law Review, iss 3, pp. 288-298, is available online on Westlaw UK.


Chinkin and Yoshida_CEDAW and decriminalisation of same sex relationships_EHRLR 2022.pdf

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GenderedPeace – A Gendered International Law of Peace 786494
European Commission