Since the mid-1990s, a steadily growing number of intersex people in Europe and all over the world have found the courage needed to raise their voices and denounce the human rights violations suffered by intersex people. In order to do this, they had to overcome secrecy, shame, pathologisation or self-pathologisation and society’s vast knowledge gap about the concerns (or even the sheer existence) of intersex people. Such challenges were – and still are – hard to overcome. But the world is changing. The year 2015 has been a turning point in Europe, with Malta becoming the first country in the world to protect intersex people’s physical autonomy and bodily integrity on the ground of ‘sex characteristics’ on 1 April. Malta and Greece (since 24 December) became the first countries in Europe to explicitly protect intersex people against discrimination.
2015 was also the year of two landmark documents: the Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights’ issue paper “Human Rights and Intersex people”, and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) focus paper “The fundamental rights situation of intersex people”. Both documents confirm that sex ‘normalising’ treatments are still taking place without consent all over Europe. The cornerstone of successful advocacy is knowledge. If you want to know how you can work for change, this toolkit will help. It will explain the major challenges intersex people face in different areas of life, set out intersex people’s demands, provide information about current political developments, as well as give advice on how to become a great intersex ally.
We thank ILGA Europe for making this toolkit possible and for their ongoing and dedicated support in advocating for intersex human rights. We thank the European Commission for providing the funds needed to undertake this task.
Dan Christian Ghattas,
Miriam van der Have
Co-Chairs OII Europe
Thanks to the brave and dedicated work of intersex activists across Europe, the silence and low general awareness that previously surrounded intersex issues have been replaced by increased interest from NGO allies and policy-makers, more media coverage and strong political statements.
Once people nd out about the human rights violations and life experiences of intersex people, their rst reaction is to ask: How can I become an intersex ally? What can I do?
Since we added the ‘I’ to our mission in 2008 and co-organised the rst European Intersex Forum in 2011, we, at ILGA-Europe, have been asking ourselves the same questions. We have gone through a great process of learning and relationship building in partnership with OII-Europe. This learning process has been reinforced by the annual Intersex Forum, ongoing contacts with intersex activists and trainings for ILGA-Europe sta and member organisations. And we are still learning every day.
Throughout the year, we have seen a growing interest in intersex issues from a number of human rights institutions, equality bodies, policy makers, health professionals, teachers, NGOs, and of course LGBT activists. We are encouraged by their willingness to join us in this attempt to learn about intersex issues, thus becoming strong allies in the ght for intersex human rights.
We hope that this tool-kit will help to inform all our allies and be a starting point for many conversations.
Intersex has become an integral part of our human rights work. Now we would like to encourage you to include intersex in your human rights efforts too.
Executive Director of ILGA-Europe