Wednesday, September 9, 2015

UN launches Intersex Fact Sheet ............



As part of its Free&Equal campaign, the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (UN OHCH) has launched an intersex fact sheet to better explain intersex issues.

The fact sheet includes a basic explanation of intersex and outlines many of the human rights issues faced by intersex people: including forced sterilisation and gender assignment surgery.

According to the UN OHCHR fact sheet, intersex people are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies and being intersex is much more common than most people think. 1.7 percent of the world’s population is born with intersex characteristics. According to experts there are as many intersex people as there are natural red-heads.

The fact sheet also makes clear that intersex is a matter of biology not orientation or gender identity and that an intersex person may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and may identify as female, male, both or neither.

“Because their bodies are seen as different, intersex children and adults are often stigmatised and subjected to multiple human rights violations, including violations of their rights to health and physical integrity, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, and to equality and non-discrimination,” states the document.

The fact sheet also outlines the discrimination intersex children face – often subjected to unnecessary surgeries to conform to binary stereotypes – and suggests action is needed to ensure an end to unsolicited and medically unnecessary surgeries.

The UN also points out the lack of training health care professionals have around intersex issues and the failure of adequate protections for intersex people in anti-discrimination law.

Morgan Carpenter, President of Organisation Intersex Australia (OII Australia) descrimed the fact sheet as a well balanced an informative document.

"This is a fantastic and very welcome resource. It doesn’t just clearly explain who intersex people are and the issues we face, it also provides a list of action points for all Australian and other governments to address, to ensure that intersex people have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else.”

The fact sheet called for a number of action points to better protect the human rights of LGBTI people.

Prohibit medically unnecessary surgery and procedures on the sex characteristics of intersex children, protect their physical integrity and respect their autonomy.

Ensure that intersex people and their families receive adequate counselling and support, including from peers.

Prohibit discrimination on the basis of intersex traits, characteristics or status, including in education, health care, employment, sports and access to public services, and address such discrimination through relevant anti - discrimination initiatives.

Ensure that human rights violations against i ntersex people are investigated and alleged perpetrators prosecuted, and that victims of such violations have access to effective remedy, including redress and compensation.

National human rights bodies should research and monitor the human rights situation of intersex people.

Enact laws to provide for facilitated procedures to amend sex markers on the birth certificates and official documents of intersex people.

Provide health care personnel with training on the health needs and human rights of intersex people and the appropriate advice and care to give to parents a nd intersex children, being respectful of the intersex person's autonomy, physical integrity and sex characteristics .

Ensure that members of the judiciary, immigration officers, law enforcement, healthcare, education and other officials and personnel are trained to respect and provide equal treatment to intersex persons.

Ensure that intersex people and organizations are consulted and participate in the development of research, legislation and policies that impact on their rights.

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