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Protecting the human rights of people born with variations in sex characteristics in the context of medical interventions

Identity LGBTI

What the project is about

The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a project that considers how best to protect the human rights of people born with variations in sex characteristics — in the specific context of non-consensual medical interventions.

Currently, there are no national guidelines or legislation on the management of people born with variations in sex characteristics in Australia.

The aims of the project are to:

  • identify key issues and obtain perspectives on current practice by consulting with various stakeholders, including individuals born with variations in sex characteristics, advocacy groups, medical professionals and representatives from federal, state and territory governments
  • evaluate the current approaches taken to medical interventions in Australia and other jurisdictions using a human rights-based framework
  • develop recommendations for a nationally consistent human-rights based approach to decision-making about medical interventions.

For this inquiry, the Commission uses the term ‘people born with variations in sex characteristics’ to refer to people born with bodies that do not align with medical norms for female or male bodies. This can include variations in sex chromosomes, hormones, reproductive organs and/or sexual anatomy. ‘Intersex’ is another term used to describe this population. Learn more about the background and terminology adopted in this project.

Consultation Paper

The Consultation Paper considers the human rights affected by non-consensual medical interventions, different international approaches on this issue, the current state of human rights law, and some of the main issues that arise in this context.

Consultation Paper: PDF icon PDF File DOCX

Consultation with people affected

As part of this project, the Commission consulted with people from all walks of life who are affected by this issue. Stakeholder consultation has allowed individuals born with variations in sex characteristics, parents and carers, and medical professionals the opportunity to contribute to the development of the final report.

The consultation phase of the project began in July 2018. Consultation included interviews and written submissions. The consultation component of this project has been reviewed and approved by an external, independent Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) at the University of Sydney. 

The Commission will publish a report, with recommendations for reform, after the consultation process is complete.

Submissions closed on 30 September 2018.

For further information about the project, please email or phone 02 9284 9650 or 1300 369 711.