Date: 
Thursday 26 October 2017

October 26 marks Intersex Awareness Day.

“Over the last 12 months, it has become increasingly clear that we need to do more to protect the human rights of people with intersex variations in Australia,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

The United Nations Free & Equal campaign explains that “intersex people are born with sex characteristics … that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies”. 

“Over the last year, the Family Court of Australia has made two key decisions involving young people with intersex variations: Re: Carla (Medical Procedure) [2016] FamCA 7 and Re: Kaitlin [2017] FamCA 83. These cases raise important questions about how medical treatment is carried out on children and young people born with intersex variations. The challenge arising from these cases is to improve how human rights are protected in this situation,” Commissioner Santow said.

“In March 2017, intersex organisations and independent advocates from Australia and New Zealand issued a joint consensus statement (the ‘Darlington Statement’) identifying the key priorities in the intersex human rights movement. The Darlington Statement includes a call for human rights-based multidisciplinary approaches to medical interventions.

“Internationally, UN human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee Against Torture and Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, have expressed concern about medical interventions involving Australian children with intersex variations before they are able to provide full and informed consent.

“In light of these developments, the Commission looks forward to working closely with people with intersex variations – as well as their parents and carers, medical practitioners and state, territory and federal governments – to improve human rights protection for people with intersex variations in the context of medical interventions”, Commissioner Santow said.