Promoting Intersex Human Rights Internationally

By participating in human rights convenings at the international level, interACT helps to raise awareness of the human rights violations experienced by intersex youth. In collaboration with intersex activists across the globe we have worked with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Organization of American States, and others, ushering in an important wave of attention to intersex issues and highlighting the importance of accountability for the human rights violations experienced by this population.

International Intersex Forums

Global intersex activism and collaboration has been growing over the last several years and can be marked by International Intersex Forums generously co-sponsored by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) starting with the first in Brussels in 2011, the second in Stockholm in 2012, the third in Malta in 2013 and most recently Amsterdam in 2017.

 

The third forum in Malta resulted in a significant community declaration of demands referred to as “The Malta Declaration”.

Read the Malta Declaration.

Attendees of the 4th International Intersex Forum in Amsterdam

Thanks to funding from the Astraea Intersex Human Rights Fund, The fourth forum in Amsterdam was the largest to date including groundbreaking representation from all regions included previously underrepresented Latin America, Asia, and Africa. 

Read the fourth forum’s Media Statement.

Testimony to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

In March 2017 interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman testified before the Inter-American Commission at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC with Natasha Jiménez Mata from Costa Rica.

In March of 2013, staff member Pidgeon Pagonis provided testimony to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

After The Recognition of Human Rights

interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman co-organized the International Intersex Human Rights Panel with Intersex UK at After The Recognition of Human Rights held at Surrey University in Surrey England in September 2016.

UN Convention Against Torture Recommendations 2016 as part of 2018 UPR

The interACT legal team submitted a document to the 59th Session of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) urging them to consider some key questions around intersex in the future periodic review of the USA. This document provides an updated summary of the current standing of intersex surgery and human rights.  It also reiterates the fact that continued treatment of intersex individuals in the United States clearly meets the CAT’s standards for torture: that the action be intentional and performed for discriminatory and non-medical purposes; performed with state control, custody or consent; cause severe physical and psychological pain or suffering; and involve those who are powerless to refuse.

UN Free & Equal Campaign launch on IAD 2016

The United Nations is calling on governments and parents to protect intersex children from harm. They have launched a campaign that features interACT staff, board and youth members.

Visit the United Nations Intersex Awareness Campaign

LGBTI human rights conference in Montevideo, Uruguay

In July, Al Ittelson represented interACT at a global LGBTI human rights conference in Montevideo, Uruguay. The conference, which included government representation from across the globe, aimed to “to share information, best practices and lessons learned in the promotion and protection of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world, both bilaterally and multilaterally” and also “to ensure better coordination of financial and political support of governments and multilateral organizations directed towards the advancement of the human rights of and the promotion of inclusive development for LGBTI persons.

Invisible No More: The Global Intersex Rights Movement

The Arcus foundation generously co-sponsored interACT’s idea to host an intersex human rights forum which Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman moderated during the the January, 2016 Creating Change Conference in Chicago.  Invisible No More: The Global Intersex Rights Movement included intersex activists from around the globe and explored the landscape of the growing intersex human rights movement. The discussion shed light on challenges that face current advocacy efforts as well as developments that are driving increased levels of awareness and support for intersex issues worldwide.

Statement to the UN Special Rapporteur for Health

interACT-youth-Axel-SRH-Danius-Puras-800x600

interACT youth member Axel Keating delivered a statement to the UN Special Rapporteur for Health in New York City, in October 2015, calling for the recognition of intersex people’s sexual health as a necessary component of their well-being, peer support and community involvement for intersex youth and their families, and the end of non-consensual and medically unnecessary genital-normalizing surgeries on intersex children.

Intersex Expert Meeting convened by the United Nations

 

In September 2015, interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman attended an Intersex Expert Meeting convened by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. At an additional UN event concerning the human rights of intersex people, Kimberly sat on an international panel of intersex activists including representatives from the Support Initiative for People with atypical sex Development (SIPD), Organization Intersex International (OII)-Australia Limited, OII-Chinese and OII-Europe. At this session, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made a powerful statement recognizing the human rights violations perpetrated against intersex people based in part on the work interACT and other international intersex organizations have put forward in this realm.

Intersex Panel Side Event during 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman took part in the side event on the human rights of intersex people, organized during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The event included representatives from interACT (at the time Advocates for Informed Choice), CIPD, Organisation Intersex International Australia Limited, Oii-Chinese and OII Europe and was supported by ILGA and COC Nederland.

Expert testimony to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT)

In December 2012, Legal Director Anne Tamar-Mattis provided expert testimony to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) on behalf of the intersex community, leading the SRT to make the following statement to the 22nd Session of the United Nations General Council:
“Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, ‘in an attempt to fix their sex’, leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering. . . . These procedures [genital-normalizing surgeries] are rarely medically necessary, can cause scarring, loss of sexual sensation, pain, incontinence, lifelong depression, and have also been criticized as being unscientific, potentially harmful and contributing to stigma.”

Read the Report for United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture

An interagency statement on sterilization

interACT was involved with the development this interagency statement signed by CRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), and WHO (World Health Organization).

International human rights bodies and professional organizations have explicitly condemned coercive population policies and programmes, noting that decisions about sterilization should not be subject to arbitrary requirements imposed by the government and that states’ obligations to protect persons from such treatment extend into the private sphere, including where such practices are committed by private individuals, such as health-care professionals. This statement aims to contribute to the elimination of forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization.

This statement aims to contribute to the elimination of forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization and explicitly mentions sterilization of intersex children.

Important Human Rights Work by interACT Allies Around the Globe

Pan Africa

North America

Asia

Latin America & The Caribbean

Oceania

Publication of Darlington Statement, a common platform on intersex community goals in Aus/NZ

In March 2017, over 20 intersex advocates from Australian and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex organizations, along with other independent activists, issued the historic “Darlington Statement”, outlining key priorities including legal reform to protect intersex bodily autonomy, oversight of clinical decisions, access to affirming health care, and the importance of peer support.

Europe

IntersexUK (ISUK) Intersex Awareness Day 2016 Video

IntersexUK (ISUK) is a human rights organization working to achieve equality for, and the protection of Intersex bodied people. IntersexUK’s vision is to ensure irreversible genital mutilations, sterilisations, and other nonconsensual abuses against healthy intersex-bodied children are stopped. A child’s body is theirs for the whole of their life and the right of that person’s autonomy must be respected above the right of others to ease social discomfort. ISUK released this video for Intersex Awareness Day 2016.