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ACT move to end non-consenting intersex medical intervention

The ACT Government has released a draft bill outlining plans to end non-consenting medical interventions on intersex children.

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The legislation was developed after consultations with experts and lived experience participants, and ongoing advocacy from intersex and LGBTQIA+ organisations.

The Variations in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2022 sets out new processes to be applied when medical treatment for people with variations in sex characteristics is being considered.

The Bill would only allow for medical treatment for emergency procedures to protect an individuals health, treatments that do not affect sex characteristics, easily reversible treatments or if the individual is seeking treatment with informed consent.

Intersex Human Rights Australia executive director Morgan Carpenter says this draft legislation marks a historic moment.

“For more than twenty years, the intersex movement in Australia has sought legal reforms to protect people with innate variations of sex characteristics in medical settings,” Carpenter says.

“The persistence of so-called ‘normalising’ interventions, intending to make the bodies of children with intersex variations fit gender stereotypes, has been our most intractable issue.”

“Working with ourselves and other intersex advocates, the ACT government made a formal commitment to reform in 2019, and this thoughtful, carefully considered draft legislation is the product of years of productive engagement.”

“To the maximum extent possible, it aims to ensure that all of us can make our own decisions about our own bodies. Alongside it, we anticipate increased resourcing for peer and family support.”

Just.Equal Australia has also welcomed the release of the draft law, and has called on other states and territories to follow the ACT’s lead.

“Too often intersex people are forced to live with decisions made for them,” Intersex Human Rights Australia senior project officer and Just.Equal board member, Cody Smith said.

“To be treated as a medical curiosity and subjected to unconsented medical procedures produces lifelong consequences and scars. This is an injustice that has been too easily ignored for too long.”

“With legislation like this, comes the promise that the harm can end here. We just need more jurisdictions ready to protect the bodily autonomy of intersex people.”

Just.Equal President and ACT resident, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, congratulated intersex advocates for their tireless work and the ACT Government for its initiative.

“It’s great to see the ACT leading the way on protecting people with innate variations of sex characteristics,” Hinton-Teoh said.

“All state and territory governments should follow the ACT’s lead.”

OIP Staff


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