Intersex issues at the 2013 federal election

Joint survey on LGBTI issues

Joint survey of major parties

OII Australia joined together with the NSW and Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobbies, and TransGender Victoria to survey the major parties on issues of interest to our communities.

The results are now in, and you can take a look by viewing the files below.

There are a range of issues of interest to intersex people, including common ones about federal anti-discrimination protection, access to marriage, ageing, data collection and immigration, but also specific questions about respect for bodily autonomy, support for community organisations, identification documents and testosterone.

Bodily autonomy, and ending “normalisation” surgeries

The Labor Party, which has led on recent reforms, is waiting for the results of the Senate Inquiry into involuntary or coerced sterilisation before taking a position on bodily autonomy issues. The Greens acknowledge the historic/current lack of scrutiny of cosmetic genital surgery on intersex minors and blurring of “the lines between therapeutic and non-therapeutic operations”.

The Coalition, somewhat worryingly, refers the issue to the States and Territories, and regards the issue as “properly understood in the context of medical practice”, rather than in the context of human rights.

Support for community organisations

Labor and the Greens mentioned support for community organisations. Neither chose to make any statement on ensuring that volunteer organisations, like OII Australia and AISSGA, can properly service the intersex community through funded staff.

Sex and gender recognition

All major parties support the federal sex and gender recognition guidelines. These allow intersex adults to identify our gender as male, female or X. Labor explicitly mentions support for a “similar approach” by States and Territories.


Adding or subtracting testosterone is an issue for intersex people. Those of us who have been sterilised require either oestrogen or testosterone, or both. Only those of us with an M gender marker are able to obtain testosterone on PBS. Only representatives for the Coalition stated a correct understanding of the current situation, but they declined to ensure access for people with an X or F gender marker.


Broadly, the results show a still limited understanding of intersex. All parties support the federal sex and gender recognition guidelines but an understanding of our health needs, and support for our over-capacity volunteer community organisations, remains elusive.

We don’t believe that any of these specific issues should be partisan, although we recognise that wider issues around relationship recognition, for example, are the subject of much ongoing debate.

OII Australia Secretary Morgan Carpenter called for greater engagement between political parties and intersex Australians.

The response to this election survey tells us that political parties are only just starting to understand the issues faced by intersex voters. We need improved engagement between OII Australia and the federal Government after the election, regardless of political party, to ensure that key intersex issues are addressed in the next parliamentary term.

Take a look through these snapshots, and download the linked files for more information.

We recommend looking through the full details, below the snapshot data.

Full and summary assessments

Download our joint assessment of the parties’ responses.

Individual party responses

Read the original responses to the survey.

Visit the NSW GLRL page to find out more.

Election Forum in Melbourne on 31 August

Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby – in partnership with Transgender Victoria and Organisation Intersex International Australia – is hosting an LGBTI 2013 Election Forum on Saturday 31 August 2013.

Hosted by Comedian Toby Halligan, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus representing the ALP, Coalition MP Kelly O’Dwyer and Greens MP Adam Bandt will be at the forum to answer your questions on their respective parties’ positions on LGBTI issues. Cr Tony Briffa (OII and AISSGA Board member) will be on a panel.

The forum will be held at: DnMBar, 119 Commercial Road, Prahran. Arrive at 2:30pm for a 3pm start.

RSVP to this free event is critical – visit to put your name down.

To submit a question to one of the panelists, or for more information, visit