We welcome the first Senate report on the involuntary sterilisation of people with disabilities
The Senate’s Community Affairs Reference Committee has just published its first document on involuntary or coerced sterilisation. A second report, focusing on intersex people, will be published in a couple of weeks (update: likely in late September).
We welcome the report, its focus on the human rights of people subjected to non-consensual sterilisation, and its recommendations to outlaw such surgeries on people with disabilities. There are numerous recommendations which could equally be applied to intersex people. We welcome those recommendations.
We welcome language in the report which refers to the ambiguities involved in defining some surgeries as therapeutic – and we note that the Senate will return to this issue in respect of intersex people.
We also welcome the Committee’s criticism of the “best interests of the child” test, and its replacement with a “best protection of rights” test, see recommendation 11. This is an issue that we addressed directly at the hearing on 28 March. The Committee notes that an individual’s capacity to consent is not static, but changes over time.
We need to reflect further on some of the recommendations, in particular in respect of recommendations regarding the role of the Family Courts.
We warmly thank the Committee, staff and contributors to the Inquiry for this report.
2.127 The committee abhors the suggestion that sterilisation ever be used as a means of managing the pregnancy risks associated with sexual abuse and strongly recommends that this must never be a factor in approval of sterilisation.
4.43 The committee recommends that, for a person with a disability who has the capacity to consent, or to consent where provided with appropriate decision- making support, sterilisation should be banned unless undertaken with that consent.
4.44 The committee recommends that, for a person with a disability for whom it may reasonably be held that they may develop the future capacity to consent, irreversible sterilisation should be banned until either the capacity to consent exists, or it becomes reasonably held that the capacity to consent will never develop.
5.117 The committee recommends that each Australian jurisdiction use the same definition of capacity, to ensure that a person’s rights to autonomy and bodily integrity do not vary according to, and are not dependent on, the jurisdiction in which they live.
5.126 The committee recommends that all jurisdictions adopt in law a uniform ‘best protection of rights’ test, replacing current ‘best interests’ tests, that makes explicit reference to the protection of the individual’s rights; and the maintenance of future options and choices.
6.55 The committee recommends that the Standing Council on Law and Justice obtain information about the frequency and nature of ‘therapeutic’ sterilisation cases being conducted, and compare the circumstances of those cases with ‘non- therapeutic’ cases that have been authorised by courts or tribunals.
Download the Inquiry report on sterilisation and people with disabilities
- German proposals for a “third gender” on birth certificates miss the mark
- Clinicians acknowledge lack of justification for surgeries on intersex infants in Australia a compilation of quotes from submissions by the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group and the Royal Children’s Hospital, 15 July 2013
- Update on Senate Inquiry on involuntary and coerced sterilisation 13 July 2013, including data on Female Genital Mutilation
OII Australia submissions
- Our fifth submission, dated 29 August 2013 (PDF) a concluding submission, taking into account recent developments
- About our fourth submission a response to the submission by the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group, and new data from the Council of Europe
- Fourth submission, dated 30 June 2013 (PDF)
- About our third submission focusing on the rationales for involuntary surgery on intersex infants, and comparisons with Female Genital Mutilation; also presenting information on the M.C. legal case in the US and the 2005 City of San Francisco human rights investigation
- Third submission, dated 3 June 2013 (PDF)
- On our second submission which focused on a case detailed by the Chief Justice of the Family Court, but also the new Victorian Health Department report, and the Senate’s report on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill
- Second submission, dated 8 March 2013 (PDF)
- About our first submission
- First OII Australia submission, dated 15 February 2013 (PDF)
AISSGA and National LGBTI Health Alliance submissions
- AISSGA submission, dated 12 March 2013 (PDF)
- Third National LGBTI Health Alliance submission, dated 9 July 2013 (PDF)
- Second National LGBTI Health Alliance submission, dated 15 April 2013 (PDF)
- First National LGBTI Health Alliance submission, dated 12 March 2013 (PDF)
- Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group (APEG), dated 27 June 2013 (PDF)
- Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), dated 10 July 2013 (PDF)
Documents tabled by OII Australia
- Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics, ‘On the management of differences of sex development’ (PDF)
- Anne Tamar-Mattis (Advocates for Informed Choice), ‘Report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Medical Treatment of People with Intersex Conditions as a Human Rights Violation’ (PDF)
- Victoria, Department of Health, ‘Decision-making principles for the care of infants, children and adolescents with intersex conditions’ (PDF)
- OII Australia, ‘Response to Victorian Health Department framework document’ (PDF)
- National LGBTI Health Alliance policy statement on the Victorian Department of Health approach to intersex young people (PDF)
- City and County of San Francisco, Report of a 2005 Human Rights Investigation into the medical “normalization” of intersex people (PDF)
- All submissions to the Senate Inquiry on involuntary sterilisation
- Terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry
- Transcript of the public oral hearing on intersex issues on 28 March 2013 (HTML and PDF) witnesses represented OII Australia, AISSGA and the National LGBTI Health Alliance
- Article on the public hearing of the Senate Inquiry on involuntary sterilisation
- Opening statement at the Senate hearing on involuntary or coerced sterilisation, 29 March 2013
- Press coverage of the intersex aspects of the Senate Inquiry, by The Age newspaper, 20 June 2013