Thank you to Chief Minister Andrew Barr! On 22 March 2023 the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory introduced legislation into the ACT Parliament to protect the human rights of people with innate variations of sex characteristics (intersex traits). It passed with cross-party support on 8 June 3023.
This is an Australian first and it is transformational. It establishes new infrastructure and legal protections, and is accompanied by significant investment in psychosocial support for individuals and families.
It comes off the back of years of huge community and personal work, and close engagement with the ACT government. I’m proud to supported the work of Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) staff and our engagement with many other stakeholders, and to have been personally acknowledged and thanked for my “tireless work” by the Chief Minister in his moving and emotional introductory speech, along with locals Steph Lum and Cody Smith. It’s so rare to receive any kind of public acknowledgement for work that mostly happens behind the scenes, and I was already gently sobbing. Chief Minister Andrew Barr said:
I want to acknowledge the many people with variations in sex characteristics who have made this reform possible. For their advocacy, I thank A Gender Agenda, Intersex Human Rights Australia and Intersex Peer Support Australia. I particularly recognise the tireless work of Morgan Carpenter. Thank you, Morgan. I would also like to thank Equality Australia for their assistance. I express my deep gratitude to those who have engaged with us in this process and who have shared their stories with us. These people include two Canberrans I am very proud of, Cody Smith and Steph Lum, two champions of the intersex community who have called for changed behaviour and approaches to treatments and increased visibility of diversity of bodies.
It’s important for me to also acknowledge that this kind of reform, in such a neglected area of law, takes a village. Thank you to the Chief Minister, his staff, and all our partners for their work. I hope that other jurisdictions will take up the offer of assistance, to ensure nationally-consistent protections.
The text of the bill, and the explanatory memorandum and additional information are available on the website of the Chief Minister’s Department here.