OII Australia is relieved and excited at the passing of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, without a vote at 8:30pm, AEST.

For the first time in Australia, and for the first time internationally, intersex people are recognised fully and authentically in anti-discrimination legislation.

Intersex people are born with physical differences of sex anatomy, so that biological sex cannot neatly be classified as clearly male or female. Intersex people in Australia can identify our gender as male, female or X.

The Act includes:

  • New attributes protecting people on grounds of intersex status, and gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Protection for all intersex people, independent of characteristics such as sex, sexual orientation or gender identities.
  • Recognition that intersex has a biological basis.
  • The intention of no substantive religious exemptions applicable to intersex.
  • The intention that sport exemptions will not be applied as a blanket rule, but include case by case assessment. We commented in our submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Sex Discrimination Amendment that more than 1 in 400 women Olympic athletes are intersex, and sports exemptions should not be used to eliminate us from competition in Australia.
  • The removal of religious exemptions on gender identity and sexual orientation grounds from aged care – something of great value to intersex people who identify as LGBT or queer.

Morgan Carpenter (OII Australia secretary) said:

Intersex people face discrimination in access to healthcare, employment, schooling and even in interpersonal relationships. Intersex men and women face disbelief in the reality of our gender identities, and those of us who are physically most different are often the most vulnerable.

In February, the Senate agreed with us that intersex is a biological reality, and that all of us should be protected, and without religious exemptions. This is now law, and a huge step forward that will have many positive repercussions.

Tony Briffa (OII Australia and AISSGA board member) said:

I am elated and encouraged the Australian Parliament has seen fit to adopt legislation that not only recognises intersex people, but that also helps to protect us from being discriminated against because of the way we were born.

This is a significant moment for intersex people around the world, and I hope other countries will follow suit.

Gina Wilson (OII Australia president) said:

The legislation comes after a strenuous and exhausting process of educating and lobbying. We acknowledge with great thanks all of those who helped, particularly our LGBT allies, who went to the trouble of understanding and including intersex in their own efforts to bring about this historic legislative change.

In acknowledging this, we note that intersex organisations were the only completely unfunded group who had to argue for our place in this law.

Though this legislation is fundamental to intersex rights there still remains significant work to do for intersex activists. And we need funding and support to do this.

Intersex people remain the subjects of non-consensual surgeries and treatments to modify our appearance, often for reasons like our future marriageability and employment prospects. OII Australia and the AISSGA call for an end to all appearance-related infant genital surgeries. We ask other organisations to join us in this call. We also look forward to the report of a Senate Inquiry into the involuntary and coerced sterilisation of intersex people that will report at the end of September.

Press contacts

Sydney – Gina Wilson, president OII Australia, [email protected] 0418 290 336.
Melbourne – Tony Briffa, board member OII Australia and AISSGA, [email protected], 0418 398 906.

The legislation

Reports and submissions that contributed to the legislative process

Related issues for intersex people in Australia

Press