PRESS RELEASE July 19nth, 2022
GREECE bans IGM
A Historic Day for the Protection
of the Human Rights of Intersex Children
As of today, July 19th, 2022, surgical and other medical interventions, which until now have been carried out on intersex infants and children, secretly and without consent, to “conform” their sex characteristics with the “typical” male or female anatomy have been legally banned in Greece. Today is, therefore, historic for the protection and recognition of the human rights of intersex people, in Greece, in Europe and in the world. Greece, following European developments, becomes the 5th country in the world and the 4th in the European Union after Malta, Portugal, Germany and Iceland to ban IGM (Intersex Genital Mutilation) and other “normalization” interventions on intersex infants and children. In addition, today one of the leading statutory objectives of Hellenic Community “Intersex Greece” is realized: the prohibition of medical interventions that the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Union and other international human rights bodies have repeatedly characterized as human torture.
Intersex Greece is the only intersex-led organization in Greece and has been fighting for the defense of the rights of intersex people for years. After many months of cooperation with the Ministry of Health, today our top request is been accepted, the protection of intersex children from abusive operations that tormented and stigmatized them, often for life.
More specifically, Articles 17 to 20 (PART C CHANGE OF SEX CHARACTERISTICS OF INTERSEX MINORS) in the Law no. 4958/2022 (Official Gazette A 142 – 21.07. 2022) Medically Assisted Reproduction Reforms Act prohibit medical operations and procedures performed on intersex children (or, according to current medical terminology, on children with -so called- Disorders of Sex Development /DSD). Such interventions can ONLY be performed on intersex minors who have reached the age of 15 and ONLY with their free and informed consent. In addition, in order to carry out any such medical intervention not urgent for health, permission will be granted from the local Magistrate’s Court, following the granting of an opinion by an Interdisciplinary Committee which will consist of experts in such matters. The bill provides for the participation in the Committee, among others, of a representative of the community of intersex citizens with similar expertise. Finally, the law provides for a prison sentence of at least 6 months and a monetary penalty for doctors who will perform operations on intersex minors without the above permission. This puts an end to the abuses perpetrated on infant, child and adolescent intersex bodies by the medical community with the tolerance of the State for years. Please note that the above articles do NOT refer to trans or transgender persons but exclusively to intersex persons.
This law may not solve all the rights violations experienced by intersex people in Greece, as
- unnecessary surgeries are not the only violation that intersex bodies suffer in the field of health (indicatively, see humiliating and painful ways of examining intersex bodies by doctors),
- there is still unnecessary pathologizing and silent protocols of selective terminations of healthy and desirable intersex fetus by many medical practitioners, and also
- violations do not occur exclusively in the field of health, but also in every other level of life (education, family, society, state).
However, this bill is an excellent start for ensuring the well-being and free development of intersex children because it recognizes their right to bodily integrity, and finally, it emphatically affirms that Intersex Rights are Human Rights.
The fight clearly continues, but let today be a day of celebration, relief and hope for all intersex persons in Greece, who can finally feel that they are valid, that they are heard and that they are respected just as they are born by the Greek State, and that nobody can define their body without their own will and consent.
We would like to thank all our team members who over the years have worked tirelessly and voluntarily to achieve our goals, as well as our intersex allied organizations outside of Greece, OII Europe, InterAct and OutRight for their support during the preparation of the bill.
We sincerely thank the National Strategy Committee for LGBTI Equality for highlighting the importance of the issue, the Ministry of Health for bringing it to a vote and the country’s political staff who, with great sensitivity, understanding and empathy, voted for it.
We are here and we continue.
Nothing for us without us!