Over 50 States call to protect the human rights of Intersex people at the United Nations

A growing number of States has called on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently protect intersex persons in their autonomy and right to health.

an image of the intersex flag in bright sun to illustrate the states call on the United Nations to protect intersex people
Image: Instagram: @sappho.for.equality

A growing number of states including Ireland has called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to urgently protect intersex persons in their autonomy and right to health.

“Intersex persons continue to face discrimination in many areas of life,” Austria told the Human Rights Council on behalf of 52 States, “particularly in education, healthcare, employment, social security, sports, places of detention and access to public services.”

“There is a need to take measures to protect the autonomy of intersex children and adults and their rights to health and to physical and mental integrity so that they live free from violence and harmful practices.”

These words mark another milestone for the intersex human rights movement. For years, civil society has worked to make sure that States could listen to the voices of people with diverse sex characteristics and recognise the historic injustices that this population keeps facing every day.

Then, in October 2020, 37 States took the lead and addressed intersex human rights violations –  a first at the UN Human Rights Council.

Civil society from across the world has also spoken at the United Nations Human Rights Council: 76 organisations welcomed the recent initiatives by States with regard to the rights of intersex people but encouraged them to do more.

“Discrimination, stigmatization, violence, harmful practices in medical settings, and several other human rights violations continue to occur around the world for people born with diverse sex characteristics. Actions have to follow those statements,” their statement read.

“States need to take strong and urgent action to uphold their obligation to ensure that intersex people live free from all types of violence and harmful practices, including in medical settings. Irreversible medical interventions (such as genital surgeries, hormonal interventions, and medical procedures intended to modify the sex characteristics of infants and children without their full, prior, and informed consent) continue to be the rule – not the exception – in the majority of UN Member States.”

“Unless immediate action is taken, severe human rights violations against intersex people will prevail and continue. This Council needs to send a strong message that such practices are in violation of international human rights norms, and must not be tolerated”.

This is a joint statement by:
  • ILGA World
  • Brújula Intersexual
  • interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth
  • Intersex Asia Network
  • Intersex Human Rights Australia
  • SIPD Uganda
  • OII Europe
  • OII Chinese
  • GATE

You can find more information about Intersex Ireland, an organisation that supports intersex people nationally online here.

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