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Practice of 'normalising' intersex children at birth denounced by Europe

At least 21 EU States allow medical intervention on children to allocate sex at an early age.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

TWO MAJOR EUROPEAN agencies have denounced the practice of ‘normalising’ intersex children at birth.

The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), a decentralised EU agency that focuses on the basic rights of those living in the EU, has released a focus paper looking at the main issues in the area.

The Council of Europe has also released a research paper on human rights and intersex people. 

In the FRA’s new report, it is found that the rights of intersex people “remain largely unrecognised in European societies.”

Speaking about the paper, FRA interim director Constantinos Manolopaulos said, “The rights of intersex people have been largely overlooked by policy makers and legislators across the EU over the years.”

FRA’s work points to some of the urgent challenges that need addressing to break down the discriminatory barriers that persist and to alleviate the unnecessary suffering from medical interventions.

What are the issues?

On the area of medical treatment for intersex children, the FRA’s paper points out that in at least 21 member states, medical intervention is carried out on children to impose a sex on them at an early age.

In eight member states legal representatives can give consent and in 18 parental consent in required.

The report advises that member states should “avoid non-consensual ‘sex-normalising’ medical treatments for intersex people.”

It is also recommended that birth certificates should allow for gender to be registered as “sex neutral” and that:

Identity documents and birth registries should therefore be reviewed to better protect intersex people.

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Protecting intersex people from discrimination is also highlighted. It states that “intersex covers a large variation of sex characteristics” and that:

Legal and medical professionals should therefore be made aware of the fundamental rights of intersex people, particularly children.

Welcoming the news

Speaking about the new paper, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), said that:

This recognition of the wrongs committed and still being committed today against intersex people has been long overdue.

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