Intersex advocacy group Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia is calling for more support from the GLBT  community support in advocating for the rights of intersex people.

OII president Gina Wilson said it was crucial intersex issues be aired during the Australian Human Rights Commission’s sexual orientation, sex and gender identity discrimination consultation, currently underway.

“It would be good if we can raise awareness in the community that when talking [about discrimination laws], intersex is included, because we’re often overlooked,” Wilson told Sydney Star Observer.

“We’re a small voice, we need people behind us backing us up so we’re not once again excluded. I think this is probably the best chance in Australian legal history to get intersex rights on the book. If we do, we will only be the second country in the world, South Africa the first.”

Wilson said intersex issues were often neglected because of a lack of understanding.

“Generally the problem is ignorance, there is almost no knowledge about what intersex is; a lot of LGBT organisations are really reluctant to include us because they’re never meet an intersex person; there’s rumours that intersex don’t want to be a part of [the community] and, besides all that, what do they mean by intersex, what the heck is it,” Wilson said.

“The message is not so much that LGBT should pay more attention to intersex, it’s that they should know about intersex.

“What we’re trying to do is raise awareness of what intersex is and also our engagement with LGBT, so it’s LGBTI.”

Wilson said she will be engaging in discussions with community groups to raise issues on behalf of the intersex community.

She said the focus on gay marriage was a becoming a distraction from other issues, particularly intersex rights.

“There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of rights, and that’s the problem with how marriage equality is being pursued in some quarters,” she said.

Wilson said references to ‘same-sex marriage’ acted as a disadvantage to the advancement of rights for the GLBTI community.

“[The terminology] doesn’t include everyone, so same-sex marriage immediately excludes anybody who is intersex … we can only marry if we pretend to be one sex or the other.

“In talking about same-sex marriage, it seems like [marriage is] the ultimate target, that the LGBTIQ [community] wants and pretty much when we get that we’ve got the lot.

“It’s about equality and equality for all and the Marriage Act shouldn’t stipulate anything to do with sex or gender when it comes to people being married, it should only stipulate ‘between two people.’”

The AHRC consultation runs until November 26. Community members can make submissions via the AHRC website or by mail.

The Commission will also host roundtable discussions in Sydney on October 28 and Melbourne on November 9.

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