Session de l'Assemblée parlementaire janvier 2012Parliamentary Assembly Session January 2012

Nils Muižnieks: Europe disregards human rights of intersex people

Governments across Europe disregard the human rights of intersex people, the Commssioner for Human Rights warns today.

“Europeans remain largely unaware of the painful personal histories of intersex people and the human rights violations they face,” Nils Muižnieks writes.

“Stereotypes and norms grounded on the binary female-male classification have led to unnecessary medical and surgical interventions on intersex infants and a climate of incomprehension in society. It is time to address this unacceptable situation.

In his research study, Muižnieks reveals the medical, legal and administrative obstacles which prevent intersex people, some of whom were called “hermaphrodites” in the past, from fully enjoying their human rights.

He adds: “European countries have been slow in recognising and upholding the human rights of intersex people and the gender diversity they represent.

“It is urgent to end unnecessary medical treatment and surgery of intersex individuals without their consent; to respect their right not to undergo sex assignment treatment; to review medical classifications which treat variations in sex characteristics as a pathology; and to ensure intersex persons’ right to self-determination by facilitating their legal recognition in official documents.”

The commissioner also urges governments to give intersex people full access to their medical records. The authorities should also offer professional training on the problems encountered by intersex people, and improve the counselling of intersex children and their parents.

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