United Nations addresses the human rights of intersex persons in ground-breaking resolution

This is a joint statement by:

Ação Pela Identidade – API; African Intersex Movement; Beyond the Boundary-Knowing and Concerns Intersex (Hong Kong); Campaign for Change (CfC)  (Nepal); Fundacja Interakcja (Poland); ILGA World; Intersex Asia; Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoZ); Intersex Human Rights Australia; Intersex Human Rights India; Intersex Kenya Education and Advocacy (IKEAA); Intersex Movement Ghana / Key Watch Ghana; Intersex Nigeria; Intersex Persons’ Implementation Coordination Committee (IPICC); Intersex Persons’ Society of Kenya (IPSK); Intersex Philippines; Intersex Thailand; Intersex Society of Zambia (ISSZ); Intersex South Africa; Intersex Uganda; Intersex Venezuela; Intersexions; Intersexo Brasil; ISIO Intersex Human Rights Finland; Iranti; Justicia Intersex (Argentina); Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR); Mulabi / Latin American Space for Sexuality and Rights; OII Chinese; OII Europe; Omoro Alliance for Empowerment Foundation (ALEFA); Outright International; Support Initiative for People with Congenital Disorders (SIPD) Uganda; Tanzania Voice of Humanity; Voice of Togetherness Uganda.

Geneva, 4 April 2024 – The United Nations made a historic move to protect the human rights of intersex persons, 35 civil society organisations said today, as the Human Rights Council adopted its first-ever resolution specifically addressing discrimination, violence, and harmful practices against persons with innate variations in sex characteristics. A majority of States voted in favour of the resolution, with no States voting against it.

The resolution – brought by Finland, South Africa, Chile, and Australia – encourages States to “work to realise the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” for intersex people. It also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report – to be discussed at the Human Rights Council in September 2025 –  examining “discriminatory laws and policies, acts of violence and harmful practices, in all regions of the world,” and looking at “best practices including legal protection and remedies” for persons with innate variations in sex characteristics.

“This resolution marks yet another milestone in how international bodies are looking at the rights of intersex persons,” the 35 organisations said. “Over the years, the work of civil society and States alike has built tremendous momentum, but things could take an even more decisive turn this time. Thanks to this vote, the first-ever official United Nations report to address the human rights situation of persons with innate variations in sex characteristics will raise awareness of the issue in a way that States can no longer ignore, and will have to act upon.”

The document adopted by the Council expressed “grave concern” about violence and harmful practices facing persons with innate variations in sex characteristics – including medically unnecessary or deferrable interventions concerning sex characteristics. It also recognised how its call to action builds upon statements made by multiple human rights bodies and the commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals – especially Goal 3 on Good health and well-being.

“We are grateful to the cross-regional group of States who brought this resolution forward, those who supported it, and the growing number of countries that have started to enhance protections for intersex persons,” the 35 organisations continued. “Intersex people exist in every part of the world. And yet, they continue to face pervasive human rights violations everywhere – including forced and coercive medical interventions, infanticide, denial of legal recognition and registration at birth, and discrimination in accessing health, education, and sports, amongst others. The importance of the United Nations addressing this situation to better the lives of intersex people worldwide cannot be overstated.”

** ENDS

Notes to editors:

Intersex people have innate variations of sex characteristics (such as genitals, reproductive organs, hormonal and chromosomal patterns) that are more diverse than stereotypical definitions of male or female bodies. Up to 1.7% of the global population is born with such traits, and the fact that someone is intersex can become apparent at different times in their life. Because their bodies are seen as different, intersex children and adults are often stigmatised and subject to harmful practices – including in medical settings – and discriminated against.

Number of votes for the resolution

In favour: 24
Against: 0
Abstentions: 23

List of States co-sponsoring the resolution

Albania; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Cyprus; Czechia; Denmark; Ecuador; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Kenya; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Mexico; Montenegro; Netherlands; New Zealand; North Macedonia; Norway; Panama; Portugal; Republic of Korea; Romania; San Marino; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States Of America; Uruguay.

Timeline: how the United Nations has addressed the human rights of intersex people

For media enquiries, please contact:

Daniele Paletta, ILGA World: [email protected]
Matuba Mahlatjie, Outright International: [email protected]

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