PACE calls for a ban on 'sex-normalising' surgery for intersex children

PACE has called for a ban on medically unnecessary “sex-normalising” surgery, sterilisation and other treatments practised on intersex children – who are born with biological sex characteristics that do not fit definitions of male or female – without their informed consent.

Except where there was a risk to life, treatment like this should be deferred “until such time as the child is able to participate in the decision,” the parliamentarians said in a resolution approved today, based on a report by Piet De Bruyn (Belgium, NI).

Such surgery had often been done “despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the long-term success of such treatments, no immediate danger to health, and no genuine therapeutic purpose for the treatment”, the Assembly noted. “It is often followed by lifelong hormonal treatments and medical complications, compounded by shame and secrecy.”

Compensation should be considered for individuals having suffered as a result of invasive and/or irreversible sex-“normalising” treatment without their consent.

The Assembly also said that intersex people should have access to legal recognition of their gender identity. Governments should ensure that a range of gender classification options are available for all, “including for those intersex people who do not identify as either male or female”, and could consider making the registration of sex on birth certificates and other identity documents optional for everyone.

They should also raise public awareness of the rights of intersex people to ensure their full acceptance, “without stigmatisation or discrimination”.