Human rights groups have launched a groundbreaking set of principles on sexual orientation and international law in a bid combat gender inequality and promote human rights across the globe.

The Yogyakarta Principles, named after the city whey they were adopted, were launched today by 29 international human rights experts at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

They address issues such as rape and gender-based violence, extrajudicial executions, torture and medical abuses, repressions of free speech and discrimination in the public services.

Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch welcomed the strategy:

“These principles establish basic standards for how governments should treat people whose rights are too often denied and whose dignity is too often reviled,” he said.

“Firmly grounded in law and precedent, they enshrine a simple idea: human rights do not admit exceptions.”

The principles were adopted by a meeting of experts in international law in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2006.

They set out a legal standard for how governments and other agencies should end violence, abuse and discrimination against sexual minorities.

The strategy comes as a response to a session at the UN Human Rights Council last year where 54 states asked the council to act against violations of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Charlotte Bunch, executive director of the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, one of the human rights organisations that helped launch the principles, said:

“For more than three decades, lesbians have been among the millions of women’s rights activists pressing the international community to put gender equality at the human rights agenda.

“These sweeping principles are a bold and important step forward. Addressing civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights, they show how sexual rights and gender equality are inextricably interwoven with the full scope of rights protections,” she added.