Press Release

On Intersex Awareness Day, the IACHR salutes the efforts of the OAS General Assembly to eradicate discrimination and violence against intersex persons in the Inter-American region

October 27, 2019

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office
[email protected]

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - On Intersex Awareness Day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the adoption of Resolution 2941 on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (AG/RES. 2941 XLIX-O/19) of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) on June 28, 2019.

Title XVII of the Resolution, entitled "Human Rights and prevention of discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons," among other aspects, urges Member States to collect data and continue to strengthen their institutions and public policies aimed at preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual characteristics. In addition, it urges Member States to ensure adequate protection for intersex persons and to implement policies and procedures, as appropriate, to ensure that medical practices with respect to intersex persons respect human rights.

The IACHR recalls that the term "intersex" has been developed to describe all those situations in which a person's body varies from the culturally valid female or male body standard. According to available information, between 0.05 per cent and 1.7 per cent of the population are born with intersex traits, which may become visible at birth, at puberty or, in the case of some specific variations, at no time in their lives.

Intersex people suffer specific forms of violation of their human rights, framed in the binary social models of sex and gender dominant in the region. These result in irreversible surgeries of sex assignment and "normalization" of their genitals; involuntary sterilization; excessive exposure to medical examinations, photographs and display of the genitals; lack of access to medical information and medical records; delays in birth registration; denial of health services or insurance, among others.

In view of this phenomenon, it recognizes the importance of the General Assembly adopting resolutions such as the aforementioned Resolution 2941, in which States are urged to ensure adequate protection for intersex persons. The Rapporteur for the Rights of LGBTI People, Flávia Piovesan, states that "visibility is an important step for the comprehensive guarantee of the Human Rights of intersex people. The progress made by States in combating violence and discrimination against intersex persons, such as the adoption of Resolution 2941, is undeniable. However, the States of the region must continue to adopt measures so that intersex persons can develop their life plan in a space free of prejudice and discrimination.” The Commissioner stressed the importance of preventing intersex persons from being subjected to medical violence by prohibiting medically unnecessary surgeries and taking measures to preserve their right to free, prior and informed consent.

The IACHR recommends that OAS member states conduct training for medical personnel and the medical community in order to provide adequate treatment and support for intersex persons and their families; create multidisciplinary groups to provide support and advice to parents and relatives of intersex children; and provide care and support for intersex persons from childhood through adolescence and adulthood; conduct national awareness campaigns on the short and long-term effects of "normalization" interventions on intersex children; and conduct educational campaigns in conjunction with Ministries of Education in order to end the stereotypes, social stigmas, and invisibility surrounding intersex people.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 275/19