Today, Portugal has adopted a new Law No. 75/XIII/2 (PDF) aimed at protecting trans and also intersex persons. This new law has been publicly hailed by ILGA as “mak[ing] Portugal only the second country worldwide to outlaw medically unnecessary treatments on intersex kids” and “[i]t will become illegal to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex children”, arguably referring to art. 5 (“Protection of sex characteristics”) and art. 6 (“Modification of the body or the sex characteristics of minors”).
Unfortunately, regarding the protection of intersex children from intersex genital mutilation (IGM), the law seems grossly insufficient, as it doesn’t explicitly prohibit IGM by criminalising or adequately sanctioning the practice, nor address obstacles to access to justice and redress for IGM survivors, namely the statutes of limitations, nor include extraterritorial protections from IGM – all of which would be essential requirements stipulated by international law, namely CRC, CAT, CEDAW, CCPR and CRPD, and is considered standard in laws addressing female genital mutilation (FGM).
Tellingly, the voted-on law (PDF) and its explanatory memorandum (PDF) both fail to mention any of these requirements, or the associated UN conventions (only a general reference to “human rights” is included in the memorandum, see p. 4-5), or the requirement of informed consent of the capable intersex person themselves – instead the law exclusively focuses on “established gender identity” as the sole requirement (see art. 6). What’s more, the unmitigated and blanket exclusion of “situations with a corroborated health risk” (art. 6) is bound to be exploited as a loophole by IGM doctors.
Therefore, Law No. 75/XIII/2 seems to be just another case of pinkwashing and falsely claiming to protect intersex children, while at the same time IGM is allowed to continue with impunity – same as with similar laws in Malta, Madrid and Argentina.
The law hast still to be ratified by the President to become effective.
• 31 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
• “Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condemn IGM
• UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (CRC): IGM = Harmful Practice
• UN Committee against Torture (CAT): IGM = Inhuman Treatment or Torture
• UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) condems IGM Practices
• UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) condemns IGM
• 56th Session of Committee against Torture reprimands 4 Governments for IGM
• CAT 2011: Germany must investigate IGM practices and compensate survivors!
Intersex Genital Mutilations • 17 Common Forms
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM – Historical Overview • What is Intersex? • How Common are IGMs?
>>> Download PDF (3.65 MB) >>> Table of Contents
Eliminating IGM practices by holding the perpetrators accountable via well-established applicable human rights frameworks, including Inhuman Treatment and Harmful Practices – Presentation @ UN expert meeting on Intersex Human Rights