Submission to the UN Committee Against Torture

OII Australia has made a submission to the UN Committee Against Torture, in relation to a national review of Australia’s work to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The submission has been endorsed by:

This report details specific concerns relating to people with intersex variations and Australia’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”). It details our concerns regarding the following:

  • Involuntary or coerced treatment on intersex persons; and
  • Disclosure and privacy issues related to body scans, searches and treatment of intersex prisoners.

OII Australia also endorsed a submission to the same Committee by People with Disability Australia, Inc.

Recommendations

The recommendations of the Senate inquiry report on Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia and the related report Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia need to be implemented. In particular:

  • Australia must develop and enact national uniform legislation prohibiting the sterilisation of children, regardless of whether or not they are intersex or have a disability, in the absence of their prior, fully informed and free consent, except where there is a serious threat to life or health.
  • Psychosocial rationales for surgical and hormonal interventions on persons with intersex variations must no longer be permissible, or regarded as acceptable or therapeutic.
  • Intersex women and girls must to be subject to the same policy arrangements on Female Genital Mutilation as non-intersex women and girls, with no applicable exemptions on cultural grounds, including grounds such as future marriage prospects.

Public services must meet the standards established by the Sex Discrimination Act and Guidelines on Recognition of Sex and Gender. Providers must ensure non-discriminatory treatment on the basis of intersex status and identified gender identities. The government should develop standards to ensure dignity and privacy in custodial, detention and security scanning.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the organisations endorsing the submission, and also Anna Brown of the Human Rights Law Centre for reviewing a draft version.