Later this year Australia will be considered during the 75th session of the UN Committee against Torture. In 2016 we made a submission to the Committee under our former name, OII Australia. Given the time that has elapsed since then, and given local developments, we have submitted a new shadow report.
A pattern of human rights abuses on infants, children and adolescents with intersex traits persists in Australia, including those that Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, has described as:
irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, ‘in an attempt to fix their sex’, leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering (UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 2013).
These abuses are often the product of stigma, and they provoke shame and suffering. They can occur with public funding and governmental imprimatur, despite rhetoric by Australian governments that asserts the equality and dignity of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people, and recognition and valuing of people with intersex variations, and despite opposition by intersex community organisations, human rights institutions, and mental health professional organisations (Carpenter 2022).
In this report we outline international obligations, as advised by UN Treaty Bodies, key national report and position statements, and evidence of human rights abuses in medical settings. We also summarise some of the legislation that facilitates such violations.