Vertegenwoordigers van OII Europe en ILGA-Europe op bezoek bij de Raad van Europa.

Image: iStockPhoto Olga Boeva

Human Rights

Human Rights

Human Rights is often a main topic for intersex people. Many intersex people deal with discrimination, stigmatisation and human rights violations from birth, including medically unnessesary surgeries, hormone and psychological treatments aimed at adjusting their bodies and minds to fit with the societal definition of male or female. The most important human rights intersex organizations talk about are the right to bodily integrity and the right to self-determination. When these are not respected, many other human rights violations can also take place that sadly are regularly encountered by intersex people. To name a few:

  • the right to not be discriminated against,
  • the right to freedom from violence and harassment,
  • the right to privacy,
  • the right to be free from torture or cruel inhumane treatment, and
  • the right to start a family.

These are some, but not all human rights violations that intersex people around the world struggle with. The right to not be discriminated against is violated by doctors and family members who, out of fear or unfamiliarity, choose or agree to ‘normalising’ medical treatment without the consent of the person undergoing the treatments. The right to freedom from violence and intimidation is violated because many intersex people deal with abuse, bullying and harassment. It also doesn’t help that intersex people are not yet protected by law and/or regulations in most countries from such violence. The right to privacy is violated when photos are taken of intersex peoples’ genitals or bodies without their personal consent, private information is  accessible or spread extremely easily, and being treated as an object of curiosity, for instance, by being looked at unnecessarily by many medical professionals or medical students. Sometimes photos of intersex people and children (and specifically their genitals) taken by medical staff even end up on the internet. Such practices can make going to medical associations for intersex people understandably terrifying and traumatic. The right to be free from torture or cruel inhumane treatment is violated by carrying out non-consensual, unnecessary medical interventions without the free, fully informed consent of the individual. Offering treatment without proper long-term follow-up research is a violation of this right as well. The right to start a family is violated when parts of an intersex persons’s sex characteristics related to fertility are surgically removed without their consent.

Read more about intersex human rights on the following pages:

If you want to know more about human rights violations when it comes to intersex and what specific rulings have been made previously, be sure to visit as well, which gives an extensive online overview of the recommendations and rulings of the UN treaty bodies on intersex matters.