The situation of intersex people is little known to the general public. Understandings of gender as binary – either male or female – are entrenched in our societies. People whose bodies do not conform to those understandings, because their sex characteristics are not exclusively either male or female, are subject to human rights violations in all aspects of their daily lives.
Intersex people are frequently subjected to irreversible and highly intrusive surgery well before an age where they could give informed consent. Every day they are confronted with the impossible choice: “male or female?” in requesting identity documents, filling in administrative forms, even in simply using public toilets. The vast majority of antidiscrimination laws do not expressly cover discrimination on the grounds of sex characteristics, making claiming equal rights extremely difficult. Prejudice based on ignorance is rife, exposing intersex people to humiliation and shame, and exacerbating the inequalities they face.
The Parliamentary Assembly should contribute to raising awareness on these issues by conducting research into the situation of intersex people. It should identify good practices in Council of Europe member States and beyond, and draw up specific and concrete proposals to remove the discrimination experienced by intersex people in all fields of life.