Steps forward for the rights of intersex people

The Senate Committee on Community Affairs has released a report following an inquiry into the forced sterilisation on intersex infants. The practice of surgery on intersex infants raises serious human rights concerns, given that the surgery is not undertaken with consent and is irreversible. The report has been welcomed by intersex advocates, including recommendations for greater legal oversight of surgeries and the development of clear national guidelines to oversee treatment of intersex people by the medical profession.

Meanwhile, Germany has become the first European country to allow babies born with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Under the new legislation, the entry for gender can be left blank on birth certificates, effectively creating a category for indeterminate sex in the public register. Intersex advocates in Germany have said this is a positive first step but continue to call for a moratorium on ‘normalisation’ surgeries on intersex infants.