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The United Nations has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the challenges facing intersex people.

Nearly two per cent of babies are born with intersex traits – meaning their chromosomes, hormones or, in some cases, genitals don’t fit typical definitions of male or female.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said many intersex people face a very difficult journey from birth.

“Because their bodies don’t comply with typical definitions of male or female, intersex children and adults are frequently subjected to forced sterilisation and irreversible surgery, and suffer discrimination in schools, workplaces and other settings,” he said.

The UN Free and Equal team said parents often take drastic measures when a baby is born and cannot voice their choice or consent.

They wrote in a joint statement: “This is the moment when parents come under pressure to agree to surgery aimed at so-called ‘normalising’ their baby’s body. Modifying a baby’s body for cosmetic and social reasons has no medical justification, carries high risks, can leave deep physical, emotional and psychological scars – and violates their rights.”

The UN is proposing a number of measure to protect intersex people from harm – including a ban on unnecessary medical procedures on intersex children, support for intersex people and their families, training for doctors and medical professionals, and effective anti-discrimination laws that address unfair treatment of intersex people throughout their lives.

Today, October 26, will mark Intersex Day to promote human rights for intersex people.

You can find out more click here.

A new video to accompany the campaign has also been launched.

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