Sigmundur says that it is ridiculous that the government intends to stop parents and health professionals from “curing” intersex children and that the bill is probably the “scariest” parliamentary issue of recent times.
The bill proposes that “permanent changes to the atypical gender characteristics of children under the age of 16, without consent, will only be permitted for health reasons, and only after a thorough procedure and assessment of the need for the changes and their consequences.”
Sigmundur has been harshly criticised for his speech in Alþingi, in which he stated “Judging by the description, this is probably the scariest parliamentary issue I can remember in recent times. It seems to stand in the way of banning children from taking necessary and life-enhancing measures. Babies can be born with various birth defects. Sometimes there is nothing to do about it, but fortunately modern science allows us to improve many of them. It is now proposed that no action should be taken to repair, cure, prescribed organs, or so-called atypical sex symptoms.”
Speaking to Fréttablaðið, director of the National Queer Organisation Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir struck back against Sigmundur, pointing out that Iceland is a party to the UN Human Rights Council agreement to protect the rights of intersex people.
“This is the most extremist talk I have ever heard,” she said of Sigmundur’s remarks. “He wants, in other words, that we continue to perform unnecessary surgeries on children who have no say in the matter,” adding that protecting the rights of these children has not until now been a political matter.
“This bill is the result of a great deal of work,” she said. “Work that doctors have been involved with. So this is not a poorly-constructed bill, on the contrary. This has been worked on very thoroughly so this criticism from him is just being pulled out of thin air.”
As reported, protecting intersex children from non-consensual, medically unnecessary and purely cosmetic surgeries were supposed to be a part of last year’s gender determination law, but were removed in committee. As the intersex bill comes from the Prime Minister’s office, its passage is all but certain—no matter what Sigmundur has to say on the matter.
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