United Nations Event: Human Rights For Sexual Minorities
Anis Akhtar, intersex activist in the UK.
The event was held at the House of Lords on Tuesday 24th January 2012 and there were 3 speakers who presented to an audience, in a conference room. Unfortunately, I missed the begining.
Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk Foundation
Stuart spoke of the foundation and his courageous uncle, Harvey Milk. He did mention intersex, whilst talking of LGBT.
Renato Sabbadini, ILGA – International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
Renato spoke of the organisation and its huge number of partners and members. He spoke of intersex persons.
Emma Reed, Head of LGBT, GEO – Government Equalities Office
Emma spoke about nothing but LGBT. She spoke of protection for LGBT persons that had come about only a few weeks ago and against hate crime.
The floor was opened to questions and discussion topics:
- LGBT History Month – advertising, networking and so on.
- Statistics on LGBT people murdered in European Union countries – Stuart & Renato spoke of the negative connotations of the word ‘tolerance ’ and the UN member overlooking the event at the Westminster branch of the United Nations Association begged to differ on this matter.
- The forced sterilisation of trans people in Sweden – a demonstration in London was advertised and people present were welcome to come along.
- LGBTI people and the power of religions – what can be done to challenge this. Stuart responded that the US has laws on terrorism. It was agreed that religion was a very sensitive and tricky area.
As the event was coming to an end, the gentleman from the UN had his final word, a young man waved his hand in the air and was told no more time sorry, and the man from the UN Association continued. Determined, the young man edged his way to Stuart, rested his hand on the back of his chair and tapped Stuart on the shoulder and said, “I have some important things to say…”
At that instant all in the audience looked at the young man and he began…
Anis’ statement and its reception:
Excuse me, I’ve overcome social anxiety to be here today, from Bradford. London is not the most accessible place for the visually impaired but I am here to have my say for intersex. I purposely waited ’til now; I had to know if any others would bring up intersex. The focus has been very much LGBT.
Firstly, to the gentleman who spoke of religion, I was at the NUS LGBT Activist Training event. A Muslim had posted stickers around London and the only gay charity for Muslims in London, said No! to islamophobia and homophobia.
Why has it taken two people from outside the UK to bring up intersex? You all heard it here today, from the government themselves, protection for LGBT against hate-crime but what about intersex! Do you know, intersex unborn children are aborted? Parents are told their child will be a vegetable. Am I a vegetable? I stand here articulate, talking, no disrespect to those in a vegetable state.
Intersex children are tossed into pits to drown in urine and their skulls are crushed to be used in rituals. I am an East Asian Studies student. I would rather take my chances in China or Japan where disabled people are seen less. I’d rather live in nations knowing I daren’t challenge the government’s oppression than a nation where intersex people are ignored. We are not trans! If there is anyone here, who wants to support intersex reform here in the UK, please approach me.
The young lad received applause twice as long as the rest. The UN gentleman spoke how the lad had emailed them all in advance; that he was coming, despite his vision and was booking his travel and accommodation.
I was not surprised that the focus was LGBT but glad that a few people did say LGBTI on the day. What is paramount is that intersex people in the UK now have a voice – the use of the acronym “LGBT+” by the Liberal Democrats may be a good start.
It is extremely important to spread the word of what intersex is and what we experience due to society’s ignorance, negligence and outright discrimination towards any person who supposedly differs from the “norm.”
Intersex people stand up for LGBT and it is time that LGBTs include us as LGBTI, or intersex people stand alone and continue to fight for our own equality globally.
Recently it was bought to my attention by an activist for intersex who struggled for intersex human rights in the UK ten years ago. He tells me that some intersex people are happy to belong to the variation-specific groups and don’t want much to do with LGBT. I beg to differ.
LGBT at times hinders intersex people from having a voice, our own voice, especially when it assumed that intersex is simply trans and nothing more.
Some intersex people may initially believe they might be trans until they gain the truth about their birth and what has been done to them simply to adhere to society’s “norms.”
Challenging the norm and educating society on intersex is the way forward. Evidence from disabilities activism suggests that the medical professions’ medical model and approach will always remain but it is not about accepting their inhumane ideologies and actions.
In my personal opinion it is about offering intersex people the best quality of life – emotionally, socially, psychologically. Intersex people need good health and equality, no longer being forced to endure lives of fear, exclusion and ridicule, simply because Mother Nature choose us to be a variation of the beauty that is humanity.
Contacts and networking on the day:
- Harvey Milk Foundation
- LGBT History Month
- Schools Out
- ILGA – International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association
- Gay Star News
- 17-24-30 – No To Hate Crime Camapaign
- Adrian Trett – LGBT+ Liberal Democrats
- GIRES – Gender Identities Research & Education Society
- Amnesty International UK
- I asked that organisations which have adopted the disease model of intersex – that it is a disorder, sickness or illness to be “cured” – be avoided.
Photographer Ali Press attended Human Rights for Sexual Minorities on behalf of a publisher and has very kindly offered us these photographs to illustrate Anis’ report.