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United Nations

Joint Statement on the Human Rights of Intersex Persons led by Austria, 4 October 2021

United Nations Human Rights Council - 48th session

Joint Statement on the Human Rights of Intersex Persons

General Debate Item 8

Thank you,

One year ago, in this same debate, 37 States highlighted that it is high time for the Council to address human rights violations and abuses against intersex persons.

Today, I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of XX States, calling for concrete measures to combat harmful practices, violence and discrimination based on sex characteristics.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) makes clear that “every person is born equal and has the same rights to life and welfare, education and work, living independently and active participation in all aspects of society”. However, intersex persons continue to face discrimination in many areas of life, particularly in education, healthcare, employment, social security, sports, places of detention and access to public services. In order to address these challenges, there is an urgent need to combat discrimination on the basis of sex characteristics and address its root causes, such as gender stereotypes, spread of inaccurate information, stigma, taboo and pathologization. For these reasons, there is also a clear need to raise awareness about the human rights of intersex persons.

Intersex persons also need to be protected from violence and States must ensure accountability for these acts. Laws must adequately protect intersex persons from hate crimes, including those fueled by hate speech, both online and offline.

Furthermore, there is also a need to take measures to protect the autonomy of intersex children and adults and their rights to health and to physical and mental integrity so that they live free from violence and harmful practices. Medically unnecessary surgeries, hormonal treatments and other invasive or irreversible non-vital medical procedures without their free, prior, full and informed consent are harmful to the full enjoyment of the human rights of intersex persons.

We call on all member states to take measures to combat violence and discrimination against intersex persons, develop policies in close consultations with those affected, ensure accountability, reverse discriminatory laws and provide victims with access to remedy. We also call on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and on the Special Procedures of this Council to continue addressing and to scale up action against violence and discrimination based on sex characteristics within their mandates and in their work.

I thank you.

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