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A ‘milestone’ as European Parliament calls for protection of intersex rights

A ‘milestone’ as European Parliament calls for protection of intersex rights

The European Parliament made history today (14 February) as it passed its first resolution dedicated to the ‘urgent need’ to protect the human rights of intersex people.

‘Intersex people are exposed to multiple instances of violence and discrimination in the European Union and these human rights violations remain widely unknown to the general public and policy makers,’ said the European Parliament resolution.

The resolution also pointed out the ‘urgent need to address violations of human rights of intersex people’. It called on the Commission and Member States to propose legislation to address these issues.

Claude Moraes MEP is the rapporteur for the resolution and member of the LGBTI Intergroup at the European Parliament. He said the resolution showed the ‘the European Parliament wants to ensure the European Union as a whole takes its responsibility in protecting the human rights of intersex people’.

‘Intersex people suffer from multiple human rights violations that have been recognised by multiple international organisations,’ he said.

Features of the resolution include condemning the medicalization and pathologization of intersex people. It also strongly condemns sex normalizing treatments and surgeries.

Intersex advocates have long called for the end of the surgeries performed on intersex infants and children. The surgeries are only banned in two European countries – Malta and Portugal.

‘Too many countries, whether in the EU or worldwide, still allow “sex normalising surgery” to be performed on intersex children, even though most of the time they are not vital and performed for “societal” or “cosmetic” reasons,’ said Anna-Maria Corazza Bildt MEP. Bildt is the shadow rapporteur for the resolution, member of the LGBTI Intergroup and co-chair of the Children’s Rights Intergroup at the European Parliament.

A milestone and landmark resolution

Intersex and LGBTI groups celebrated the resolution.

‘We applaud the European Parliament for issuing this outstanding resolution’, said Kitty Anderson, Co-Chair of OII Europe (Organiation Intersex International Europe).

‘It is clearly based on an in-depth knowledge about the human rights violations that intersex people face in within the European Union.’

“ILGA Europe enthusiastically celebrates this historic resolution as the fruit of enormous labour on the part of intersex activist across Europe”, adds Evelyn Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe.

Other issues addressed by the resolution include the need of adequate counselling and support for intersex people and their families, and increased funding for intersex-led civil society organisations.

During the debate which preceded the voting, members of the European Parliament almost unanimously spoke in favour of the resolution and emphasised that ‘human rights violations experienced by [intersex people] are significant’. Many also argued that ‘there is nothing unhealthy about being intersex’.

Minister Delegate George Ciamba who represents the Romanian presidency said ‘extending the right to equal treatment to intersex people is entirely within the spirit of our common European values and of our common campaign for inclusiveness’.

OII Europe co-chair, Miriam van der Have said the resolution has set a clear agenda for what the next steps are to protect intersex people’s rights.

‘Putting an end to genital mutilation of intersex infants and children is a matter of urgency and the European Parliament is very clear about that,’ van der Have said.