Tim Wilson, the Human Rights Commissioner and Commission Spokesperson on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex (SOGII) rights, has announced a survey and consultation to explore key rights issues affecting LGBT and intersex people in Australia:
This consultation aims to establish what legal protections exist and what legal barriers remain, what services are being provided and what are not, and what else can be done to improve the lives of LGBTI people. At the end of this consultation process, a report will be published that provides a map of the challenges ahead and recommendations for pathways to change.
We encourage people with intersex variations to contribute to the survey report, including both legal issues and service issues.
Key issues that we believe need to be addressed include (but are not limited to):
- how to manage the effects of social stigma, especially during prenatal diagnosis, at birth, at puberty and in ageing.
- in particular, how to manage parental distress and social stigma in ways that do not take bodily autonomy away from persons with intersex variations, and do not damage family relationships.
- how to ensure that clinical practices meet international human rights obligations.
- education and awareness raising about people with intersex variations and our needs.
- how to ensure that novel third sex/gender classifications remain voluntary and opt in, and ensure that no-one is so classified without their personal consent.
General issues that you may wish to include in a submission include:
- the impact on your life of stigma and distress associated with an intersex diagnosis, including issues of disclosure, iatrogenic trauma, medical treatment, and long term outcomes.
- issues arising in healthcare (including exposure to too much healthcare and avoidance of seeking care), access to other services, workplaces, and family life.
Legal and regulatory action points that you may wish to include:
- the need to implement the Senate Community Affairs Committee report on the Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia.
- the leadership of Malta, which has proposed a right to physical integrity and bodily autonomy, and a prohibition on changes to intersex sex characteristics without informed consent of the person concerned.
- the leadership of the NSW upper house of Parliament, which last month passed a motion calling on the State to help implement the Senate committee report. Government response is required.
Service-specific action points that you may wish to include:
- funded peer and family support to manage trauma, distress and stigma.
- ensuring linkages between hospitals and intersex-led, rights-based community organisations.
- resourcing intersex-led community organisations to provide support, education and advocacy services; both OII Australia and the AISSGA remain volunteer run.
- the relevance and accessibility of LGBTI services, noting that only one LGBTI organisation made a submission to the Senate inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation.
If you need help dealing with the issues raised here or in completing the survey, and you would like to talk with someone, then please consider contacting us or the AIS Support Group Australia, or a more general support service such as QLife, or headspace 1800 650 890.
This survey was not designed with input from intersex-led community organisations. We acknowledge that not every question in this survey (including a question on gender/sex) will feel comfortable or appropriate, but we believe that this offers an important opportunity to contribute to policy making in coming years.
The deadline for the online survey is short: 23 December 2014. Written submissions may be made until 6 February 2015.