Sexual orientation is a term that means what kinds of people a person loves or has sexual or romantic feelings about. A person can love somebody of the same gender (sex), somebody of the other gender, both, or neither. The concepts most commonly regarded as sexual orientation are:
- heterosexuality (sometimes known as straight) - they can be sexually attracted to somebody of the other gender.
- homosexuality (sometimes known as gay) - they can be sexually attracted to somebody of the same gender as themselves.
- bisexuality - they can be sexually attracted to both genders.
- pansexuality - they can be sexually attracted to any person, whatever the person's gender identity is.
- asexuality - they are not sexually attracted to anybody.
Words that are sometimes also used to talk about a person's sexual orientation are:
- paraphilia - the person gets sexual pleasure from other things which are not usually seen as sexual, called fetishes.
- zoophilia - a paraphilia in which a person has a sexual attraction to other species.
The latter words are not sexual orientations. For example, a person can have a fetish and still be either heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
Many people have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. In many cultures, people who are homosexual or bisexual have been teased (made fun of), fired from their job, or made to suffer violence because of who they are. In many countries and states, there are laws against having sex with somebody of the same gender, and people can be put in jail because of who they have sex with. In the United States, these laws were struck down (repealed) by the United States Supreme Court in the last few years. The Yogyakarta Principles are made to combat such discrimination and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also made a document "Born Free and Equal" to counter them by international human rights law.
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