The Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released its report following considerable consultation about the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 and I am very pleased with the recommendations regarding intersex people. I just hope the Parliament passes this Bill before the election and not deliberately make it a point of debate in the election – especially as the Bill has in principle support from all parties.
Here are the key recommendations regarding intersex:
7.16 The committee received considerable evidence regarding the coverage of intersex status in the Draft Bill. The committee recognises that intersex individuals are often the subject of discrimination in public life, and that as such there is a need for protection on the basis of intersex status in Commonwealth anti-discrimination law.
7.17 The committee agrees with the evidence presented by Organisation Intersex International Australia, and other submitters, that intersex status is a matter of biology rather than gender identity, and as such should not be covered within the definition of gender identity in the Draft Bill. Further, the committee considers that the current requirement in the Draft Bill that intersex individuals identify as either male or female is misguided, and is unhelpful for intersex individuals whose biological characteristics do not necessarily accord with a male or female identification.
7.18 The committee considers, therefore, that intersex status should be listed as a separate protected attribute under the Draft Bill. The committee notes comprehensive evidence from witnesses that the definition of ‘intersex’ found in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2012 most accurately provides coverage for intersex individuals. The committee supports this definition as the preferred option for inclusion in the final form of the Commonwealth legislation.
7.19 As a concluding point, the committee is of the view that since intersex status is a condition related to the innate biological characteristics of an individual, it should not be an attribute to which any religious exceptions apply.
7.21 The committee recommends that subclause 17(1) of the Draft Bill be amended to include ‘intersex status’ as a protected attribute. ‘Intersex’ should be defined in clause 6 of the Draft Bill as follows:
intersex means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:
(a) neither wholly female nor wholly male; or
(b) a combination of female and male; or
(c) neither female nor male.
The report is available for upload via the following link: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=legcon_ctte/anti_discrimination_2012/report/index.htm
I would like to acknowledge and thank the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, the LGBTI Health Alliance, Organisation Intersex International and the AIS Support Group Australia for their work on this Bill.