Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
A Brief Commentary On The Yogyakarta Principles
  • Jakob Cornides
The Yogyakarta Principles have been adopted in 2007 by a self-styled ‘International Panel of Experts in International Human Rights Law and on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’. Although the authors claim that these Principles apply existing human rights standards to the specific needs of persons with different (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) sexual orientations, and thus reflect obligations of States under current international law, the real purpose appears to be to create new legal obligations and to impose them on sovereign States, while at the same time bypassing the rules and procedures for such law-making. The Yogyakarta Principles would certainly, even if they had been agreed in a proper forum and under due procedure, raise serious doubts with regard to their content. The present paper has the purpose of articulating, with no claim to completeness, some of these doubts, and to provide some arguments to those States wishing to defend themselves against pretensions that the Yogyakarta principles reflect the current status of international law. It consists of the full text of the Yogyakarta Principles, including the introduction and the preamble, to which some comments have been added in the margins of the pages. As one can see from these comments, large parts of the Yogyakarta Principles are purely and simply redundant: they restate generally and universally accepted human rights, adding that these apply also to persons of ‘diverse sexual orientations’ (as if anyone doubted that). Such redundancies are, of course, harmless. Hidden between such redundant statements, however, there are several Statements by which the sponsors Yogyakarta Principles seek to introduce a novel understanding of ‘human rights’, which is alien, if not in open contradiction, to the prevailing understanding of these rights. Perhaps the most blatant example for such manipulation is YP 24, which implies completely new interpretations of the terms ‘family’ and ‘marriage’. These re-interpretations are a pre-condition for promoting an obligation for States to recognise same-sex ‘marriages’. Besides this, it is noteworthy that the Yogyakarta Principles, while pretending to apply human rights to the specific case of persons with diverse sexual orientations, actually seek to establish privileges for these groups. For example, YP 19 and 20 claim that notions of public order, public morality, etc. must not in any way restrict the LGBT lobby to pursue its aims (while these restrictions would, as one must suppose, still continue to apply to everyone else). As one cannot avoid noticing, these ‘Principles’ have a dangerous potential of undermining democracy and inner peace wherever a State should accept them. While the comments presented in this paper mainly concern the substance of the Yogyakarta Principles, it should be noted that the way in which these Principles came into being provides even greater reason for concern: this is a deliberate attempt to manipulate our understanding of ‘Human Rights’ in order to promote the self-serving social agenda of a small cluster of vociferous and politically well-connected advocacy groups. States should beware of such manipulations, which, purporting to impose on them obligations and values to which they never have signed up, have the potential of undermining not only the credibility of the self-styled ‘experts’ who put their names under this document, but of ‘Human Rights’ and, ultimately, of international law as a whole.
Publication Date
April, 2009
Citation Information
Jakob Cornides. "A Brief Commentary On The Yogyakarta Principles" (2009)
Available at: