European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Europe must step up efforts to protect intersex people

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and Fundamental Rights Agency publish milestone reports on intersex.

ILGA-Europe welcomes the strides made by the Council of Europe (CoE) to put intersex issues firmly at the heart of the European human rights agenda and welcomes the Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA) in-depth analysis of legislation and policies affecting intersex people. This recognition of the wrongs committed and still being committed today against intersex people has been long overdue.

“The report today is the result of the Council of Europe’s political commitment to put intersex on the European agenda”, states Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe. “The most important message for me coming from the Council of Europe and the FRA report, is that policy makers should no longer speak about intersex people in their absence, but support activists and the intersex movement through organisations such as OII Europe to speak for themselves and be consulted when it comes to legislation and policies that concerns their fundamental rights and well-being.”

Both reports rightly denounced the so-called sex normalising treatments on intersex babies and adolescents that are currently taking place all over Europe, violating the rights of intersex people to self-determination and bodily autonomy.

“Both of the reports launched today send a strong, unequivocal message to European governments, that modern judicial and medical standards should be based on firm human rights compliance to protect intersex people from the violations and stigmatisation they suffer, ” said ILGA-Europe’s Senior Policy and Programmes Officer, Sophie Aujean.  “Governments throughout Europe should take action to ensure the inclusion of intersex people in anti-discrimination and equality legislation.”

Malta, Norway and Finland are the first European countries to legislate to protect the human rights of intersex people. Other European countries now need to follow suit. ILGA-Europe fully agrees with the FRA focus paper conclusion, that as long as Intersex people are medically diagnosed as men or women with a health disorder they will remain vulnerable to discrimination.

The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights’ issue paper on human rights and intersex people and the FRA’s focus paper were unveiled this morning (Tuesday, 12 May 2015) at the European IDAHO Forum in Montenegro, marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Both reports explore the lived realities for intersex people in Europe. Human rights-based recommendations from Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks form the basis for the CoE analysis, while the FRA publication examines the laws and policies affecting intersex people. The FRA’s work will feed into a longer forthcoming paper on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination – one that focuses on intersex issues for the first time.