Intersex Australians received a message of support today from the Australian Human Rights Commission, marking Intersex Awareness Day on 26 October 2016.
“We reaffirm our commitment to protecting and promoting the human rights of people with intersex variations,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.
“Intersex Awareness Day highlights the human rights issues faced by intersex people,” Commissioner Santow said.
“People with intersex variations can face a range of human rights issues, as well as discrimination and social stigma in schools, workplaces and other settings because they may not conform with sex and gender expectations.
“United Nations treaty bodies, agencies and experts have raised concerns on a number of occasions regarding the human rights of people with intersex variations.
“In 2015, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, stated that far too few of us are aware of the specific human rights violations faced by millions of intersex people, including forced sterilisation and other unnecessary and irreversible surgery.
“This year, to recognise Intersex Awareness Day, a group of United Nations and international human rights experts have called for an urgent end to human rights violations against children and adults with intersex variations.
“This expert group has called for an urgent end to medically unnecessary surgery and procedures on intersex children. The group has urged governments to uphold the autonomy of intersex adults and children and their rights to health, to physical and mental integrity, and their right to live free from violence and harmful practices, and to be free from torture and ill-treatment.
“The Australian Human Rights Commission endorses these calls.
“Some people with intersex variations in Australia have experienced irreversible medical interventions without their full and informed consent.
“In 2013, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee conducted an inquiry into the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia. The Committee found there is no medical consensus regarding how and when so-called ‘normalising surgery’ should be conducted.
“The Committee made a number of recommendations that would increase protections for the rights of intersex people. I regard these recommendations as important and necessary.”
Commissioner Santow said he intends to continue the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission in promoting the rights of people with intersex variations.
“The Commission will evaluate the current approaches to medical interventions in Australia. We will develop a nationally consistent, human rights based approach to decision making regarding medical interventions,” Commissioner Santow said.
Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia explains that intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical norms for female or male bodies.