The Victorian government commits to protect the human rights of intersex people in medical settings

Breaking News: Victorian Government moves t o end treatments on intersex people without their consent
Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) and Equality Australia welcome the Victorian Government’s vision for Victorians with intersex variations, (i) Am Equal: Future directions for Victoria’s Intersex community.

The plan, released today by the Minister for Health and Equality, Martin Foley details the government’s commitment to protecting the human rights of intersex people in healthcare, prohibiting deferrable medical interventions without personal consent. The reforms will also increase awareness of innate variations of sex characteristics, develop new resources, and support intersex health and wellbeing services. These will reflect basic principles of human rights, self-determination, holistic care, person-centred care, and accountability and transparency. The reforms aim to respect the rights of intersex people to make decisions about our own bodies.

Tony Briffa, co-chair of the Victorian Intersex Expert Advisory Group, and board member of Intersex Human Rights Australia says:

Addressing the human rights and treatment of Victorian children born with variations of sex characteristics has been a long time in the making, and it’s important we get it right. In developing (i) Am Equal, the Minister and the expert advisory group have laid the foundation for long overdue, but world-leading reforms that will protect intersex children and improve the lives of intersex Victorians. I thank them for their work and longstanding commitment to intersex people. It’s through working together collaboratively, respectfully and based on evidence that we learn from the past to protect and nurture intersex children in the future.

(i) Am Equal, was developed by the Victorian Government in consultation with the Victorian Intersex Expert Advisory Group – which includes intersex people, clinicians, human rights advocates, and department staff – and with Intersex Human Rights Australia, Intersex Peer Support Australia, hospitals, human rights organisations and other community, health and clinical stakeholders.

Intersex Human Rights Australia has been contracted by the Victorian Department of Health to provide policy advice and work in partnership with Equality Australia who are contracted for legal policy advice on a proposal to establish an oversight panel that would prevent deferrable medical interventions on intersex people without their personal consent. Consultations with people with intersex variations, their parents and guardians and clinicians on a draft proposal will commence this month, with details below.

Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, says:

We commend the Victorian Government and Minister Foley for their leadership in committing to ending deferrable and non-consensual medical interventions on intersex people. We also welcome the focus on increasing awareness of intersex variations, combatting stigma, and improving healthcare and support for intersex people.

Morgan Carpenter, executive director of IHRA says:

Every person in Australia deserves healthcare that respects their right to make their own decisions about their bodies. These reforms seek to ensure that Victorians with innate variations of sex characteristics have that right in relation to all elective treatment. Thank you to Minister Foley and everyone who has worked to get here. Every Australian jurisdiction should implement these reforms and we are glad that ACT is also taking steps to do so.

Intersex Human Rights Australia has also been contracted to review existing resources for individuals, parents and families, and develop new resources. We recently shared the resource review.

This work comes at a time when the ACT Government is also progressing work on reform in this area. It follows a Senate committee report on involuntary or coerced sterilisation in 2013, publication in 2017 of the Darlington Statement and Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, and numerous recommendations by UN Treaty Bodies to Australia.

Intersex advocates have worked tirelessly to secure this much needed commitment. We commend Minister Martin Foley and the Victorian government for taking this very welcome step. Together we look forward to working alongside you to make it a reality.

More information

(i) Am Equal: Future directions for Victoria’s Intersex community – Victorian Department of Health

Background documents:

Briefings for the stakeholder consultations:

Equality Australia consultation sessions:

Find out more about the consultation