ACT passes landmark laws protecting intersex people


intersex awareness day conference ilga intersex australian human rights commission
Image: Sparrow/Wikimedia Commons

The ACT has passed landmark legislation, protecting intersex people from unnecessary medical interventions.

The laws mark the first of their kind in Australia, with calls for other states to follow suit.

It follows decades of advocacy by intersex people and will prohibit unnecessary surgeries on intersex infants and children.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission report, early and unnecessary medical procedures can cause significant harm.

Consequences can include loss of sexual function and sensation and a loss of fertility.

Additionally, surgeries can lead to urinary tract issues, incorrect gender assignment, and loss of autonomy.

Intersex people deserve protection nationally

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said it was time for other states and territories to follow the ACT’s lead.

“Every intersex person in Australia should be able to grow up to live a full and dignified life in which they decide what happens to their own bodies,” she said.

IN OTHER NEWS: Intersex woman sues after ‘cruel treatment’ in men’s prison

“It’s now time for the rest of the country to commit to protecting future generations of intersex Australians from medical procedures that can be deferred until they are old enough to decide for themselves.”

Mayor of Hobson’s Bay Tony Briffa is the world’s first openly intersex mayor.

Cr Briffa also commended the ACT government for passing the landmark legislation.

“I commend the ACT government for developing and passing legislation to protect children so they can decide for themselves what surgeries or hormonal interventions they want when they are old enough,” she said.

“Infants and children born with intersex variations in Australia continue to have unnecessary, irreversible hormonal and surgical interventions performed on them.

“I call on all other states and territories to follow the ACT’s lead and protect the rights of all intersex people in medical settings.”

The ACT bill includes:

  • Restrictions on medical treatments altering the sex characteristics of many intersex people. Except with personal consent, in emergencies, or when authorised by an independent assessment board.
  • The creation of an independent board comprised of people with lived experience and experts in medicine, human rights, ethics and psychosocial support.
  • The board will oversee medical treatment plans for intersex children and others who do not have capacity to consent to necessary treatment.
  • Offences and other regulatory provisions that enforce these principles.

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch: sarah@qnews.com.au

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