Intersex Flag
2 min read

In a victorious moment for human rights, on April 4th, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution designed to protect the rights of intersex persons.

Initially proposed by the governments of Finland, South Africa, Chile and Australia, the resolution seeks to “combat discrimination, violence and harmful practices” against intersex people, and help them achieve “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

The vote was passed with 24 countries voting in favour, 23 countries abstaining, and none voting against.


Approximately 1.7% of babies are born with intersex traits, defined by the UN as persons “born with sex characteristics — such as sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, hormonal patterns and/or chromosomal patterns — that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.”

The resolution noted that intersex people are subject to grave human rights violations, including infanticide and forced and coercive medical treatments from a young age, often performed “without the full, free and informed consent of the person.” Such treatments are not only medically unnecessary but can lead to lifelong health complications, including infertility, loss of sexual sensation and mental health issues.

Additionally, the Human Rights Council acknowledged that intersex people often experience multifaceted discrimination in all areas of life – from education and employment to health, sports, and access to legal remedies and justice.

The resolution will see the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights produce a report “examining in detail discriminatory laws and policies, acts of violence and harmful practices against persons with innate variations in sex characteristics, in all regions of the world.”

The report will include recommendations on combating these human rights violations and will be read at the council’s 60th session in September 2025.

Speaking before the vote, U.S. Ambassador Michèle Taylor said the resolution was a testament to the international community’s commitment to addressing and mitigating the challenges faced by intersex individuals, ensuring their rights are respected and protected.

“It underscores the necessity of a human rights-respecting approach, avoiding language that pathologizes and stigmatizes, and instead advocates for the autonomy, dignity and equality that all persons regardless of their sex characteristics deserve,”  Ambassador Taylor said.

By affirming intersex rights, the resolution recognizes the injustices experienced by intersex persons and sets an international standard for protecting human rights of all individuals, irrespective of gender. This resolution is a chance to review intersex practices around the world, normalize intersex acceptance, and empower intersex individuals to make autonomous decisions about their bodies.

Last Updated on Apr 10, 2024

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