A Sexual Rights Charter for Older Adults


The Sexual Rights Charter aims to ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect, and without discrimination, as they get older when it comes to their sexuality. It is a set of statements that the community, organisations, service providers, and the workforce can adopt to support the sexual rights of people as they age. The Charter, and Guidance Notes, have been designed to help people get better at talking about sexuality so they can get the support they need and services are guided on how to provide that support.

Why we need a Charter

Sexual rights are human rights as applied to sexuality. Sexuality, including sexual thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and identity, is important to many people as they get older. But scientific and anecdotal evidence tells us that the sexual rights of older adults are rarely met. One of the main reasons is because as a society we tend not to view older adults as sexual. This has a huge impact on the way we think about and provide services for people as they age.

Who the Charter is for

The Charter is for the public, health and social care professionals, community and voluntary workforce, researchers, educators, and policy-makers. By incorporating the Charter into our work, we will make a difference to the lives of people as they age by recognising sexual agency, respecting diversity, and tackling ageism. We have designed the Charter so that everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, and social class, will be treated without discrimination.

Who developed the Charter

The Charter was developed by Professor Sharron Hinchliff, Dr Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh, and Gilli Cliff as a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Age-friendly Sheffield. It was further developed through consultancy with a wide range of older adults, younger adults, health and social care professionals, civil servants, and aged-care specialists. The idea for the Charter came from our research which highlighted that the sexual rights of people aged 50 and older were not being met. Sharron knew there was a solution and the Charter was born.

What people say

“Sexuality is a vital part of wellness and being healthy. As doctors, we can forget this and, at worse, silence it. The charter helps to bring the subject of sexuality and intimacy to the forefront of the conversation and gives people the confidence to raise issues that might be sensitive or taboo. I’m excited to see how the charter changes the conversation about sex and sexuality.”

― Dr Rebecca Mawson, GP

“I’m pleased that the Charter includes all protected characteristics. As a middle-aged woman who’s had relationships with women and men, it’s easy to feel like you’re being judged. I hope the Charter will help put a stop to that.”

― Woman aged 60-69

Want to find out more?

The Charter itself is supported by a suite of materials: Guidance Notes, Problem Statement, and FAQs. The materials are free. Use the button below to get in touch so we can send you them to you.