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.

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United Nations

UN Convention Against Torture Recommendations 2016

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.

Intersex Human Rights Country Report 2021

interACT urges the authors and editors of the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices to include information on the rights of intersex people in their future reports as the need for support for the global intersex movement continues to grow.

“Statements to the UN Special Rapporteur for Health”, 2015 & 2017


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.

“UN Free & Equal Intersex Campaign”, 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. interACT consulted on the development of the campaign video and webpage.

Visit the United Nations Intersex Awareness Campaign

Intersex Panel Side Event during 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council
2015, Geneva, Switzerland

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.

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.

Expert Testimony to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
2012, Geneva, Switzerland

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.”