LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

The Council of Europe makes history with its first specific resolution on the rights of intersex people

Today, the Council of Europe has adopted a resolution on the human rights of intersex people.

This is the first intersex-specific resolution of its kind from a European intergovernmental institution. 

At today’s plenary sitting of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), 33 members voted in favour of the resolution that was based on a detailed report by rapporteur Piet de Bruyn.

"Everyone at ILGA-Europe congratulates the intersex activists from across Europe and the rapporteur who worked together to produce this ground-breaking report." remarked Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director. “Thanks to the extensive collaboration between institutions and intersex activists, this resolution provides a detailed guide for policymakers across Europe, mapping out the necessary steps they need to take to protect the fundamental rights of intersex people.” 

When it comes to the human rights of intersex people, the resolution is crystal clear in terms of what governments and national authorities need to work on. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • The resolution calls for “medically unnecessary, sex-normalising surgery” on intersex babies to be prohibited, along with other treatments practiced on intersex children and young people without their informed consent.
  • The report acknowledges that parents are often under pressure to agree to “sex-normalising” surgeries without any information about the long-term consequences such surgeries might have. In order to protect the child’s right to bodily integrity and self-determination, what is needed are patient-centered and holistic approaches, in consultation with intersex organisations. 
  • The need for public awareness-raising is also highlighted, emphasising how important it is to increase the general public’s understanding of the issues encountered by intersex people (especially among teachers, social workers and the medical profession).  The report underlines the fact that awareness-raising is key in order to ensure that intersex people are “fully accepted in society without stigma or discrimination”.

ILGA-Europe is also very encouraged by the report’s ambition in relation to gender markers. We welcome the fact that the report encourages making the registration of sex on birth certificates and other documents optional for everyone. 

“Now, in order to make this resolution relevant in the day-to-day lives of intersex people in Europe, it is important that national governments start taking steps to legally protect the rights of intersex people. Their number one priority should be to ensure a strong human rights perspective when providing access to care to intersex people.” added Evelyne Paradis