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ACT passes Australia’s first intersex protection bill  

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Intersex advocates are celebrating after the ACT made history with nation-leading legislation that will protect the choice of intersex people in medical settings, writes Holly Hazlewood. 

The Variations in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill establishes legal protections and supports informed decision-making regarding any major medical treatments previously used on intersex people, often against their will at birth. 

The ACT has become just the fourth jurisdiction in the world and the first in the southern hemisphere to introduce such measures. 

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr became emotional as the bill passed, adding it is a human right for people to be able to choose their own path in life. 

“Alongside celebrating how far we’ve come, I think it’s incumbent (to recognise) all members in this parliament who care about the autonomy, consent and safety of people with variations in sex characteristics and I thank them for their support of this bill today,” Mr Barr said. 

“We look forward to the detailed debate where I will hold it together better than I have just done. I commend the bill to the Assembly.”

Under the new laws, parents of intersex children will be given information and psychological help and peer support, allowing for individual treatment plans. 

The reforms come into effect from December 2023 with the measures to be fully in place in 2024. 

Transgender people in Queensland have also been celebrating after a law passed allowing them to change their gender on their birth-certificate without having to undergo surgery. 

The move leaves New South Wales as one of the only jurisdictions in the country that still requires trans people to undergo genital surgery in order to access a new birth certificate.