The inspirational voices of LGBTI activism
Watch our video interview with passionate intersex activist, Audrey Agerter of InterAction Suisse, the first of our ILGA-Europe members from across Europe and Central Asia who talked to us about the great work they’re doing.
A native of Switzerland, Audrey is the first interviewee in our brand new Voices of ILGA-Europe project, in which members of ILGA-Europe from across Europe and Central Asia tell us about their journeys to the frontlines of LGBTI activism, the highs and the lows of their activist lives, the challenges facing them now, and how they have been supported by the work we do for and on behalf of our 600-plus member organisations.
Filmed at our annual conference in Prague last October, Audrey came to activism through an encounter with a doctor that stirred some deeply held anger and provided a moment of absolute clarity about how intersex people are made invisible.
“The doctor told me that my sister should do a genetic test to see if she has the genetics of my variation, so that if she’s pregnant she can take the good decision to abort,” Audrey remembers. “And it was the first time I realised that the medical settings and the society tries to make us invisible, and actually make us not exist anymore, through mutilation, but also through selective abortion.
“I came out of this appointment and I was angry. Angry, angry, angry! It was like a switch in my head and I was like, now I can’t live hidden anymore. I have to say that I exist, I have to say that I’m intersex and I have to do things in order for other intersex people and future generations not to have to go through what I’ve been through.”
Harnessing her anger for good, Audrey set up ILGA-Europe member organisation, InterAction Suisse, which advocates for and supports intersex people in Switzerland.
“We are focusing on three main areas,” Audrey says. “First of all community building, because in Switzerland there is no intersex community, really, so we are trying to reach as many intersex people as possible, to have friends and people who share the same interests.
“We are also doing awareness-raising, by doing workshops in different organisations, or in the medical setting, or in schools, so that everyone who is working with intersex people or children, they know our interests or needs, and what intersex is, because this is a big issue. Many people don’t know we even exist."
InterAction Suisse has been successful at advocating for intersex people in the context of the medical arena. “The most important issue for my organisation is to stop intersex genital mutilations and treatments in hospitals and to have this in a law where it stipulates that it is forbidden and that doctors cannot act the way they act now. We have participated in a motion in Switzerland for the Canton de Genéve to forbid intersex interventions in Geneva and we’ve been heard by the Council for Human Rights in Geneva. And they have voted on and accepted unanimously to have a law to forbid intersex genital mutilations in Geneva, and now we’re waiting to see the outcome of this and hoping to have something good.”
After setting up InterAction Suisse, Audrey was able to access the services and support of ILGA-Europe, which she says was pivotal to the organisation’s development.
“I participated in a workshop on public campaigns for intersex human rights at the ILGA-Europe office in Brussels, in June 2018. I think this was very important for us because through the toolkits we received we managed to have a clear idea on how to frame our message, on how to discuss the topic. And then I participated in two ILGA-Europe conferences, in Brussels and Prague, and to see all the excitement and all the people working together and to see all the atmosphere, and the ideas and the capacity, I find it very empowering and very helpful. It’s a way of motivation for me as an activist, and also for InterAction.”
We are hugely impressed and inspired by Audrey’s passion and work, and we look forward to further supporting and enhancing the work of InterAction Suisse.
- Check out more Voices of ILGA-Europe for more inspirational LGBTI activist stories.