Yesterday, the government and far right defeated a motion acknowledging 8 November as Intersex Day of Solidarity. We are saddened by aspects of the government response to the motion, and reject the response by One Nation. We thank the parties and individuals who kindly proposed and supported the motion, which called for Senators to consider reading and affirming the Darlington Statement.
In his response for the government, Senator Duniam commented:
The government rejects discrimination on the grounds of intersex status. In 2013, the coalition senators specifically recommended that intersex status become a prohibited ground of discrimination and voted for the laws that made that position a reality. However, the government does not endorse the Darlington Statement. That statement calls for the criminalisation of medical procedures, the removal of gender from birth certificates, changes to healthcare standards and other very significant policy changes that affect all Australians and warrant careful consideration. While we oppose discrimination and support informed debate, we reject blind endorsement of the statement and the tokenism that this motion represents.
Morgan Carpenter, co-executive director of IHRA, states:
We welcome the government’s rejection of discrimination on grounds of intersex status, and we agree that the proposals warrant careful consideration. This careful consideration is what the motion called for.
Rejection of discrimination is incompatible with support for the kinds of forced and coercive medical interventions that the Darlington Statement seeks to prohibit. These include medical interventions designed to “enhance the appearance” of children’s genitals, justified by gender stereotypes that are documented in Australia as including the sterilisation of a 5-year old child on the basis of her Barbie bedspread and Minnie Mouse underwear.
While the Darlington Statement does have removal of unnecessary information from identification documents as a long term goal, this position was reached in response to unwise associations between intersex and specific sex/gender categories, and the Statement also contains careful alternative proposals that the government might find acceptable.
- Uncorrected proof transcript of the Senate debate on this motion, 14 November 2019
- UN OHCHR background note on human rights violations against intersex people
- IHRA policy briefing on intersex people and bodily integrity
- IHRA policy briefing on identification documents
- The Darlington Statement
- Caroline Overington wrote in The Australian about a Family Court case using gender stereotypes to justify a child’s sterilisation, in December 2016.