The situation of intersex children – raising issues
Workshop held on May 20, 2015
The conference provided a professional and scientific platform for fundamental rights theoreticians and practical experts dealing with national security checks. Presentations during the first part of the conference dealt with various challenges, related to national security checks, in the fields of constitutional law, constitutional theory and legislation; during the second part, representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Constitution Protection Office, the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information and the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights discussed the legislative and practical experiences of national security checks.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is legally obliged to pay special attention to the protection of the rights of children and other vulnerable groups. Háttér Society, a civil society partner organization of the Ombudsman’s Office, called attention to the complex problem of intersex children; the Society had been instrumental in drafting the program of this event aimed at uncovering and presenting the basic elements of this issue.
Intersexuality is not a single, well definable category, but a diversity of variations of sexual characteristics - the physical (chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical) characteristics of the person concerned do not fully correspond to those of either the male or the female body. Intersex people are characterized by a diversity of health conditions, gender identity and sexual orientation. In many cases, intersexuality manifests itself right after birth, or even before; however, this condition is often recognized only later on.
The situation of intersex children is directly related to a number of human rights, such as the fundamental rights to human dignity and self-determination, the protection of privacy, the ban on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to health and the prohibition of discrimination based on health status, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as to the rights of the child. However, the fundamental rights dimension of this issue and its inherent dilemmas have not come to the attention of legal thinking but in recent years. The relevance of this event is stressed by the fact that, in recent months, both the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe have issued reports summarizing the topic’s human rights aspects, stressing the importance of national human rights institutions paying active attention to intersex people and, in particular, to the rights of children among them.
In the course of this event organized for a professional audience, representatives of various disciplines expressed their views: in addition to children’s rights experts, representatives of human rights organizations, sociologists and pediatricians, psychiatrists and psychologists also participated in the discussions. By invitation and with the support of the EU’s Grundtvig program and the Tempus Public Foundation, Dutch intersex activist Miriam van der Have also attended the workshop. With this workshop, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights expressly aimed at creating a forum for professional dialogue and at linking experts approaching this problem from different aspects.