Two milestones for intersex human rights in Europe for IDAHOT

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Two milestones for intersex human rights in Europe on the same day.

At the IDAHO Forum 2015 in Montenegro, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the Fundamental Rights Agency launched two documents that represent a true tipping point for the achievement of intersex human rights.

The Issue Paper on “Human Rights and Intersex people” published by the Commissioner Mr. Nils Muižnieks comprehensively maps how the medical norms of so-called female and male bodies have led to routine, non-consensual, medical interventions based on the misheld belief that sex is a dichotomy. The document also highlights the shame and secrecy around intersex bodies that allow these practices to go on for decades now, while the human rights of intersex people have been at stake and, for the most part, unaddressed.

The conclusions of the FRA focus paper are in line with the findings of OII-Europe and national Intersex NGOs. So-called sex normalizing treatments are currently taking place all over Europe, violating the rights of intersex people to self-determination and bodily autonomy. Governments throughout Europe should take action to ensure the inclusion of intersex people in anti-discrimination and equality legislation.

Miriam Van der Have, board member of OII Europe, states:

“The publication of these two reports by high-level European organisations shows that the human rights violations that intersex people face are afforded more attention at the European level than in individual member states of the Council of Europe. We hope that more European Governments will commence work on legislation that protects Intersex people as per the recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights.”

Dan Christian Ghattas, board member of OII Europe, points out: “Governments and policy-makers need to involve Intersex people in the decision-making process and fully include them in all equality and anti-discrimination strategies and legislation to fully protect the human rights of Intersex people. We fully agree with the FRA focus paper conclusion, that as long as Intersex people are medically diagnosed as men or women with a health disorder they will remain vulnerable to discrimination.”

“Equality bodies, human rights commissions, and children’s ombudspersons should be clearly mandated to work on intersex issues and provide victim support to intersex people in order to facilitate intersex individuals access to justice.” Kitty Anderson, member of the board of OII Europe, points out.

The recommendations of the Issue Paper of the Commissioner for Human Rights, make very clear the need for active outreach by National Human rights structures towards intersex people. Improved public awareness, professional training and active participation in research are crucial for developing a clear view of the true scope of the situation in Europe.

OII-Europe celebrates the publication of this groundbreaking issue statement, and we look forward to seeing the recommendations come to full fruition.

The Commissioner issue paper can be found at

The FRA focus paper can be found at

OII Europe (Organisation Intersex International – Europe) is a European Network that works to ensure the adoption of Human Rights for intersex people all over Europe. OII Europe advocates for the charter of rights formulated by 30 intersex organizations at the 3rd International Intersex Forum in Malta, 2013. For more information on OII Europe, please visit

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