Why are internet rights important to sexual rights activists and why are sexual rights important to internet rights activists? These two questions formed the basis for discussion at a preparatory meeting for a global dialogue on gender, sexuality and the internet taking place in Malaysia this week.

Participants at the meeting came from diverse backgrounds and experiences, bringing their own questions and concerns to discussion of sex, rights and the internet. Many expressed concerns about the disconnect between the sexual rights and internet rights movements, calling for a greater level of intersectionality in internet rights discourse. While many sexual rights activists are recognising the impact of the internet on their work and personal safety, there is inadequate consideration of their particular realities of these activists by those working on internet rights.

Framing privacy and online safety as a community issue, participants asked how activists can engage in community-building while also managing risks to privacy and personal safety. Some participants suggested creating bottom-line privacy standards for a feminist internet, while others questioned the accessibility of such an approach, which would exclude those who don’t have information about digital security from engaging in those spaces.

Power and agency were themes that ran throughout the meeting as participants discussed issues of unequal access to the internet, corporate responsibility for protecting human rights online, and the ways that the voices of marginalised communities are represented online. Several participants raised concerns over the way that online spaces reproduce offline inequalities, widening the knowledge and technology gap that exists between those who can engage in online spaces, and those who cannot.

As participants considered the diversity of contexts in which users engage in the internet, many asked – how do we build an inclusive global movement on gender, sexuality and the internet?

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