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The new laws – a “transformative moment” for Australian intersex people – were passed unopposed in the Territory’s parliament, showing just “how important these protections are” and “that the time is right for reform in all other states and territories”.
Advocates for LGBTIQ+ rights have long-lashed the procedures, which have been branded as “unnecessary” and “irreversible”, often causing distressing lifelong side effects.
The ACT Government today passed a bill that will prohibit these treatments on most people with innate variations of sex characteristics until the individual is old enough to make the decision themselves.
“This is such a wonderful and transformative moment,” Morgan Carpenter, Executive Director of Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) said.
“The only way of maximally respecting the diverse values and preferences of people with intersex variations is to minimise early interventions.
“This legislation promises to ensure this, implementing effective oversight and appropriate penalties. And it is accompanied by much-needed investment in psychosocial support.
Carpenter said the laws should stand as “a model for other jurisdictions”, and called on other states and territories to adopt similar reforms.
Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia said “every intersex person in Australia should be able to grow up to live a full and dignified life” in which they “decide what happens to their own bodies”.
“It’s now time for the rest of the country to commit to protecting future generations of intersex Australians from medical procedures that can be deferred until they are old enough to decide for themselves,” she said.
“The fact not a single MLA from any party in the ACT voted against this bill shows how important these protections are and that the time is right for reform in all other states and territories.”
An umbrella term to define people born with hormonal, chromosomal or anatomical variations of sex characteristics, intersex refers to the “I” in LGBTIQ+.
These Aussies, many of whom have lived through the procedures, say they’ve been left scarred for life.
A large part of the problem is a lack of proper research, Carpenter explained.
“A lot of all the clinical research is really aimed at justifying early surgeries,” Carpenter told 9news.com.au in May.
“So there is very little longitudinal data, no systemic data that shows long-term adult effects.”