On the 30th – 31st of March 2017 in Vienna, Austria the first OII Europe community event took place. During the community event 28 Intersex people from 16 Council of Europe member states, some activists and some not, came together to share their experiences, and their varied objectives and strategies for the full implementation of human rights, bodily integrity, self determination and societal acceptance of intersex people within Europe.
We affirm that intersex people are real, and we exist in all regions and all countries around the world.
We reaffirm the Malta Declaration and its demands, formulated at the 3rd International Intersex Forum (2013), as well as the objectives formulated by the 1st European Intersex Meeting in the Riga Statement (2014).
We also stress the fact, that until this day more than 50 times UN bodies, regional and national human rights bodies have called on governments, policy makers and stakeholders to put an end to human rights violations faced by intersex people – including taking the necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to guarantee respect for the physical integrity and autonomy of intersex persons and to ensure that no one is subjected during infancy or childhood to non-urgent medical or surgical procedures intended to decide the sex of the child.
Ensuring the right of intersex people of bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination must be a priority in all action taken. Intersex people must be supported to be the drivers of social, political and legislative changes that concern them.
We therefore call on governments to:
- Recognise intersex people as a community that has specific and vital needs and that their human rights need protection.
To this aim governments should take decisive action to:
- Install legislative protections that ban medical interventions on children with variations of sex characteristics, on social, psychosocial, cultural or cosmetic grounds. A ban on Intersex genital mutilation is necessary as IGM is equatable with female genital mutilation that takes place within hospital settings. This may include installing legislative measures that penalise medical professionals that commit or assist in IGM.
- Ensure that medical practitioners or other professionals do not conduct any treatment to the purpose of modifying sex characteristics which can be deferred until the person to be treated can provide full, free and informed consent. Medical and psychological treatment that is performed without the intersex person’s free, personal and fully informed consent, unless life-saving, should be made unlawful. Informed consent requires being informed of different options, including, but not limited to, medical, sociological and human rights based information. Peer-counselling should be mandatorily included in the decision process.
- Ensure that intersex people are protected from discrimination. To this aim governments should install constitutional protection, anti-discrimination and hate crime and hate speech legislation on the grounds of sex characteristics. If adding a new ground is not an option “sex characteristics” should be included explicitly in the ground of “sex”. Intersex people must benefit from the same rights and protections given to other citizens.
- Provide intersex people who endured medically unnecessary or degrading treatment with reparations.
In the field of education we call on governments, universities and schools to take action to:
- Include intersex realities as a mandatory part of school curriculums, especially in biology and sex education.
- Inform professionals that play a role in intersex people’s lives, including but not limited to future physicians, surgeons, midwives, nurses, healthcare assistants, teachers and administrative officers about the existence of people with variations of sex characteristics and intersex realities. All training should be provided from a depathologizing and human rights perspective.
- Install intersex inclusive anti-bullying policies in schools.
Schools should take into account that gendered activities may be difficult and exclusionary for some intersex youth.
In the field of healthcare we call on governments, doctors associations, health insurances and other decision and policy makers working in the area of healthcare, to
- Ensure intersex people’s full access to medical records.
- Educate all healthcare professionals and providers about respectful behaviour towards intersex people and ensuring their privacy.
- Cover all health related needs of intersex people, including those that were created by previous medical and psychological interventions.
In regards to support for intersex people and their families we call on governments to
- Ensure that peer counselling, which approaches intersex issues in a depathologizing and human rights affirming manner, led by intersex adults is easily available for parents, families, intersex children and intersex adults.
- Ensure that professional counselling services that approach intersex issues in a depathologizing and human rights affirming manner are easily available for parents, families, intersex children and intersex adults.
In the field of media we call on all professionals working in this field as well as media ethic bodies to
- Increase positive representation in all fields of media, whether that be in films, tv shows, books, magazine articles and other areas.
- Discuss intersex issues without bias and without reproducing prejudices, stereotypes or assumptions.
- Ensure that people with variations of sex characteristics and intersex issues are not exoticised or “othered” by any means. Press councils and other media related ethic bodies should take action to ensure that intersex people are not discriminated against in the media and that their human rights are respected.
In regards to gender markers and gendered facilities we call on governments to
- Install an easy administrative process to facilitate gender/sex marker change on the basis of self-determination and self-declaration. A neutral marker should be made available.
- Make non-gendered facilities available for all people.
- Not permit educational institutions and businesses to require gendered dress codes.While sex and gender are two distinct facets of a person, the gender binary is harmful, especially for intersex people.
Allies should be aware that
- They must not instrumentalise intersex realities for their own purposes.
- Intersex activists need their support.
- They should under no circumstances exoticise intersex people, use intersex people in a tokenistic way or appropriate intersex issues or intersex funding.
- They must avoid exclusionary or pathologizing language.
- Safe spaces for intersex people need to be created.
- They must learn about intersex issues from intersex people, without pressuring intersex people to provide input unless they themselves want to. Seek out local or regional intersex organisations and the resources that they provide.
- They must promote intersex rights as human rights.
- Allyship manifests itself in actions, not identities, i.e., Identifying as an ally is not enough to be an ally, you must act like one.
Nothing about us – without us!
– – – – –
Mael le Braz
Dan Christian Ghattas
Miriam Van der Have
Del LaGrace Volcano
This statement is endorsed and supported by
ILGA – International lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association
Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement
Inge Toft Thapprakhon (Spokesperson Intersex Danmark)
Stephanie Stine Toft (Chairperson Intersex Danmark)
Signing the Vienna Statement
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