Victorian government commended for leadership on Intersex rights

12 July 2021 – Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) and the national LGBTIQ+ legal organisation, Equality Australia, have welcomed the Victorian Government’s vision for Victorians with intersex variations, (i) Am Equal.

The plan, released today by the Minister for Health and Equality, Martin Foley details the government’s commitment to increasing awareness of innate variations of sex characteristics, supporting intersex health and wellbeing services and legislating to improve healthcare for intersex children, including by introducing a prohibition on deferrable medical interventions without personal consent.

“Addressing the human rights and treatment of Victorian children born with variations of sex characteristics has been a long time in the making, and it’s important we get it right, said the Co-chair of the Victorian Intersex Expert Advisory Group, and board member of Intersex Human Rights Australia, Tony Briffa.

“In developing (i) Am Equal, the Minister and the expert advisory group have laid the foundation for long overdue, but world-leading reforms that will protect intersex children and improve the lives of intersex Victorians.

“I thank them for their work and longstanding commitment to intersex people.  It’s through working together collaboratively, respectfully and based on evidence that we learn from the past to protect and nurture intersex children in the future.”

(i) Am Equal, was developed by the Victorian Government in consultation with the Victorian Intersex Expert Advisory Group – which includes intersex people, clinicians, human rights advocates and department staff.

“Every person in Australia deserves the right to make their own decisions about their bodies,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, who has served on the Victorian Intersex Expert Advisory Group since it was established over six years ago.

“We commend the Victorian Government and Minister Foley for their leadership in committing to ending deferrable and non-consensual medical interventions on intersex people. We also welcome the focus on increasing awareness of intersex variations, combatting stigma, and improving healthcare and support for intersex people.”

Equality Australia has been engaged by the Victorian Government, working in partnership with Intersex Human Rights Australia, to provide legal policy advice on a proposal to establish an oversight panel that would prevent deferrable medical interventions on intersex people without their personal consent. Consultations with people with intersex variations, their parents and guardians and clinicians on a draft proposal will commence this month.

The ACT Government is also progressing work on reform in this area with an options paper released for public comment by 9 August. This also follows from a 2013 Senate Committee recommendation and a 2019 Tasmanian Law Reform Institute recommendation on laws to prohibit deferrable and unnecessary medical interventions on intersex people without personal consent.

Read more about the Equality Australia consultation here.

Read comments from Minister for Health and Equality the Hon Martin Foley here.

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au