- intersex people continue to face violations of their human rights across the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region;
- Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation (Kaleidoscope) is committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of intersex people in the Asia-Pacific region;
- not a single jurisdiction in the Asia-Pacific region prohibits non-consensual “normalising” surgeries on intersex children, despite such surgeries violating a child’s right to bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination; and
- the specific human rights violations facing intersex people are often erased, misunderstood and misrepresented, including by organisations advocating for LGBTI rights,
the Board of Kaleidoscope adopted this Intersex Inclusion Policy at its board meeting on 20 September 2016.
We recognise that intersex status is distinct from sexual orientation and gender identity and gives rise to distinct human rights issues.
Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical notions of male or female bodies.1 Like everyone else, all intersex people have a gender identity, which may be male, female or another identity (genderqueer, non-binary, third gender, etc). Like everyone else, intersex people also have a sexual orientation, which may be straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual, asexual, etc. However, intersex should never be framed as a gender identity or a sexual orientation. It describes innate physical variations in sex characteristics.
Following on from this, we recognise that:
- it is incorrect to frame intersex as an identity issue, or as a third gender or sex category, different from male or female;
- as set out in Appendix A, intersex people have specific human rights concerns that cannot simply be subsumed into those of non-intersex lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and
- “LGBTI” should not simply be used in a way that is synonymous with “LGBT” or with “gay” – instead, references to “LGBTI” and “intersex” should only be used where intersex people and their human rights issues have been included or considered in a substantive way.
The human rights of intersex people are an integral part of our work.
We endeavour to include intersex human rights issues in all aspects of our work, including our publications, reports, submissions, capacity building programs and social media posts.
In particular, when an aspect of our work has a comprehensive “LGBTI” focus, we seek to meaningfully and substantively include intersex issues and ensure that they are not marginalised in comparison to sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
To this end, we commit to incorporating within our human rights advocacy the demands contained within the Malta Declaration issued at the Third International Intersex Forum on 1 December 2013 (extracted in Appendix A). This includes, but is not limited to, advocating for:
- an end to non-consensual “normalising” surgeries of intersex children;
- an end to the classification of intersex variations as “disorders of sex development”; and
- enactment of anti-discrimination laws that protect against discrimination on the ground of sex characteristics.
We also endeavour to consult with and work in collaboration with intersex groups to promote the human rights, dignity and visibility of intersex people in the Asia-Pacific region.
We will raise awareness of intersex issues with our partners and stakeholders.
Where relevant, we will raise awareness of the specific human rights issues facing intersex people with our partners, including local activists and NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region. A particularly useful way of doing this is through our capacity building activities, including training programs.
We will circulate this policy to the volunteers and pro bono service providers who assist us with our work, in order to promote the principles set out above.
Appendix A – Malta Declaration
The Malta Declaration, set out in full below, was issued at the Third International Intersex Forum in Valletta, Malta on 1 December 2013. This event brought together 34 intersex activists from 30 intersex organisations around the world.
We affirm that intersex people are real, and we exist in all regions and all countries around the world. Thus, intersex people must be supported to be the drivers of social, political and legislative changes that concern them.
We reaffirm the principles of the First and Second International Intersex Fora and extend the demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination.
- To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments through legislative and other means. Intersex people must be empowered to make their own decisions affecting own bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination.
- To put an end to preimplantation genetic diagnosis, pre-natal screening and treatment, and selective abortion of intersex foetuses.
- To put an end to infanticide and killings of intersex people.
- To put an end to non-consensual sterilisation of intersex people.
- To depathologise variations in sex characteristics in medical guidelines, protocols and classifications, such as the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases.
- To register intersex children as females or males, with the awareness that, like all people, they may grow up to identify with a different sex or gender.
- To ensure that sex or gender classifications are amendable through a simple administrative procedure at the request of the individuals concerned. All adults and capable minors should be able to choose between female (F), male (M), non-binary or multiple options. In the future, as with race or religion, sex or gender should not be a category on birth certificates or identification documents for anybody.
- To raise awareness around intersex issues and the rights of intersex people in society at large.
- To create and facilitate supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings.
- To ensure that intersex people have the right to full information and access to their own medical records and history.
- To ensure that all professionals and healthcare providers that have a specific role to play in intersex people’s wellbeing are adequately trained to provide quality services.
- To provide adequate acknowledgement of the suffering and injustice caused to intersex people in the past, and provide adequate redress, reparation, access to justice and the right to truth.
- To build intersex anti-discrimination legislation in addition to other grounds, and to ensure protection against intersectional discrimination.
- To ensure the provision of all human rights and citizenship rights to intersex people, including the right to marry and form a family.
- To ensure that intersex people are able to participate in competitive sport, at all levels, in accordance with their legal sex. Intersex athletes who have been humiliated or stripped of their titles should receive reparation and reinstatement.
- Recognition that medicalization and stigmatisation of intersex people result in significant trauma and mental health concerns.
- In view of ensuring the bodily integrity and well-being of intersex people, autonomous non-pathologising psycho-social and peer support be available to intersex people throughout their life (as self-required), as well as to parents and/or care providers.
In view of the above the Forum calls on:
- International, regional and national human rights institutions to take on board, and provide visibility to intersex issues in their work.
- National governments to address the concerns raised by the Intersex Forum and draw adequate solutions in direct collaboration with intersex representatives and organisations.
- Media agencies and sources to ensure intersex people”™s right to privacy, dignity, accurate and ethical representation.
- Funders to engage with intersex organisations and support them in the struggle for visibility, increase their capacity, the building of knowledge and the affirmation of their human rights.
- Human rights organisations to contribute to build bridges with intersex organisations and build a basis for mutual support. This should be done in a spirit of collaboration and no-one should instrumentalise intersex issues as a means for other ends.