Senator Pauline Hanson has been asked to apologise to intersex people for calling the issues affecting their community “rubbish”.
Yesterday, Greens Senators Rachel Siewert, Janet Rice and Labor senator Louise Pratt moved a motion recognising Intersex Day of Solidarity this month.
The motion called on parliamentarians to commit to learning about intersex people and “consider affirming” the Darlington Statement. The statement sets out the Australia and New Zealand intersex community’s priorities for reform.
However, the Senate motion was voted down by the Coalition, One Nation and independent Senator Cory Bernardi.
Hanson told the Senate she didn’t understand intersex issues and didn’t want to learn.
“I’ve got more time to consider my duties as a parliamentarian for the people of Australia dealing with water, dairy farmers, PTSD for Defence personnel, and family law, instead of dealing with this,” she said.
Senator Hanson earlier came under fire for opposing a motion supporting transgender people on Wednesday.
“I cannot believe it: yesterday it was transsexual [sic]; today it’s intersex, or whatever it is,” she said.
“How many more of the 39 categories that we’ve got to consider in this parliament?
“I just think it is ridiculous. There are more important things for us to deal with that concern the people of Australia, rather than dealing with this or learning more about it.”
Two percent of the population are born intersex
Intersex people are born with characteristics that don’t fit typical definitions of “male” or “female”, and variations in intersex people can include chromosomes, hormones and anatomy.
Close to two percent of the population is born with intersex traits, similar to the number of people born with red hair.
But intersex infants often undergo irreversible and unnecessary surgeries that can cause sterilisation, health issues and psychological harm.
Later, Hanson told The Bolt Report on Sky News: “[The Greens] put this up yesterday about transgender and then they want us to learn about it.
“I said, ‘Hold on a minute, I’m not going to spend my time learning about less than one percent, less than 0.01% of the population [with] these issues, and they keep raising it everyday.'”
Senator Hanson said her time is “taken up with” other issues and she would not “put up with this rubbish”.
“They’ll keep pushing this rubbish on to us. Nobody wants to say anything because ‘We can’t upset anyone’ and ‘We’ve got to be politically correct,’” she said.
“As long as I’m in this parliament it’s not going to happen, I’m sick and tired of this garbage. I’m tired of this rubbish.”
Senator Pauline Hanson should apologise for intersex rant
Amnesty International Australia campaigner Joel Clark said Pauline Hanson owed intersex people an apology.
“Quite apart from the fact that her statistics are wrong, people with intersex variations face discrimination through ignorance and misunderstanding,” Clark said.
“Most of it isn’t willful. But when you read the things that Senators are saying in our parliament, it makes you wonder whether it is.
“People with intersex variations are also routinely subject to forced medical interventions without free, prior informed consent, typically in infancy, childhood or adolescence.
“These are real human rights issues that require real attention.”
Coalition government doesn’t endorse Darlington Statement
In the government’s response to the motion, Coalition Senator Jonathon Duniam said the government “rejects discrimination on the grounds of intersex status.”
“In 2013, the coalition senators specifically recommended that intersex status become a prohibited ground of discrimination and voted for the laws that made that position a reality.
“However, the government does not endorse the Darlington Statement.
“That statement calls for the criminalisation of medical procedures, the removal of gender from birth certificates, changes to healthcare standards and other very significant policy changes that affect all Australians and warrant careful consideration.
“While we oppose discrimination and support informed debate, we reject blind endorsement of the statement and the tokenism this motion represents.”
However, the motion did not seek endorsement of the statement, but called upon parliamentarians to read and consider it.
Intersex Human Rights Australia co-executive director Morgan Carpenter agreed “careful consideration” is needed.
“Rejection of discrimination is incompatible with support for the kinds of forced and coercive medical interventions that the Darlington Statement seeks to prohibit,” Carpenter said.
“These include medical interventions designed to ‘enhance the appearance’ of children’s genitals, justified by gender stereotypes.”
Carpenter said in one Australian case, a 5-year-old child underwent sterilising surgery “on the basis of her Barbie bedspread and Minnie Mouse underwear.”
The Darlington Statement does have removal of unnecessary information from identification documents as a long term goal, Carpenter said.
“[However] this position was reached in response to unwise associations between intersex and specific sex/gender categories.
“The Statement also contains careful alternative proposals that the government might find acceptable.”
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.