Last week, ILGA-Europe published its “Annual Review 2020 of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe and Central Asia” (PDF), “covering events that occurred between January-December 2019”. Concerning intersex human rights, while the Review finally acknowledges the shortcomings of one country previously praised to the skies, in other instances crucial human rights developments were omitted, and actually harmful developments lauded as “progress” instead.
In particular, the Review 2020 has to be commended for finally acknowledging the shortcomings of the ILGA-sponsered Maltese intersex law, which has also been criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in its 2019 State review of Malta, and for further acknowledging that intersex genital mutilation (IGM) continues in Malta despite the law (p. 74):
On 26 June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended Malta to protect intersex children from all non-consensual and unnecessary medical or surgical procedures, which continue to be practiced despite the ban. Civil society warned that sanctions for these harmful practices were only introduced in 2018, three years after the law was adopted, and that they are much lighter than in the case of female genital mutilation. The CRC also called for support for families and their intersex children and redress for victims.”
However, ILGA-Europe’s Review 2020 entirely missed the following UN Concluding Observations crucial for intersex rights and to effectively combat IGM practices, namely:
- CRC Portugal: CRC/C/PRT/CO/5-6, para 28 (b), more info
- CCPR Belgium: CCPR/C/BEL/CO/6, paras 21-22, more info
- CAT UK: CAT/C/GBR/CO/6, paras 64-65, more info
In addition, regarding intersex and IGM practices, the ILGA-Europe Review 2020 once more repeatedly lacks the necessary distinction between actually helpful Concluding Observations recognising IGM as a serious violation of non-derogable human rights, namely harmful practices, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment falling under the absolute prohibition of torture, and non-consensual medical or scientific experimentation (e.g. CRC art. 24(3), CEDAW art. 5, CCPR art. 7, CAT art. 16) vs. actually harmful recommendations downgrading IGM to a “health care” issue, which in fact reassert medical authority and support IGM doctors in continuing with impunity, namely the 2019 CEDAW recommendations to Austria and the UK under CEDAW art. 10 “health” wrongly praised in the Review.
Such lack of distinction and failure to adequately recognise the minimal legal requirements for effective protections against IGM practices constituting serious violations of non-derogable human rights is also exactly why the laws in Malta, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, etc. ultimately fail intersex children and therefore are called out by UN Treaty bodies …
What’s worse, these omissions and failures are NOT a one-off, but were also evident in other recent reports authored by senior ILGA members, e.g. the October 2019 “UNFE Background Note on Human Rights Violations against Intersex People”.
ILGA-Europe has been approached for comments.
• ‘Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
• “Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
• 48 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
• UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (CRC): IGM = Harmful Practice + Violence
• UN Committee against Torture (CAT): IGM = Inhuman Treatment or Torture
• UN Women’s Rights Committee (CEDAW): IGM = Harmful Practice
• UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Violation of Integrity
• UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) condemns IGM Practices
IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 UN-CRC Briefing
• IGM: A Survivor’s Perspective • Intersex Movement History
• What are Variations of Sex Anatomy? • What are IGM Practices?
• IGM and Human Rights • Conclusion: IGM is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB) >>> Table of Contents
Eliminating IGM practices by holding the perpetrators accountable via well-established applicable human rights frameworks, including Inhuman Treatment and Harmful Practices – Presentation @ UN expert meeting on Intersex Human Rights
>>> Download PDF (831kb)