The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with its partners SIPD-Uganda and Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoZ), launched an intersex report on the sidelines of the ongoing 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. 

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The event, which took place on 23 October 2022, was attended by a number of representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and saw the launch of the report on the human rights situation of intersex persons on the African continent.

The launch, which was chaired by Dr Tresor Makunya of the Centre for Human Rights was graced by Honourable Commissioner Remy Lumbu, the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Centre for Human Rights was represented by its project officer and lead researcher on this study, Tapiwa Mamhare. Delphine Barigye and Ronnie Zuze also represented SIPD-Uganda and ICoZ respectively.

Speaking during the launch, Commissioner Lumbu welcomed the intersex study as coming at a critical time when there is urgent need to address the human rights violations against intersex persons on the African continent. He bemoaned the lack of awareness, misunderstandings and misconceptions around intersex bodies which often lead to many of the violations against intersex persons. He welcomed the presentation of a draft resolution on intersex persons as part of the study which, if adopted by the African Commission, will be one of the first steps in protecting the rights of intersex persons at a regional level.

Researcher Tapiwa Mamhare shared insights on the human rights issues established by the intersex study. The study established that intersex persons in Africa are subjected to unnecessary genital normalising surgeries in medical settings to correct their genitalia to suit societal stands. Those who are born outside medical settings are subjected to mutilation by traditional birth attendants. He also shared that there is also lack of appropriate legal recognition and administrative processes to allow intersex persons to acquire or amend birth certificates and identity documents. As adults, intersex persons face unfair discrimination in schools, health care and detention facilities, competitive sports and work.

Delphine Barigye shared the human rights situation of intersex persons in East Africa and shared the developments in Uganda and Kenya on the protection on intersex persons. Ronnie Zuze from Zimbabwe shared his lived experience as an intersex person detailing the challenges and discrimination that he faces an intersex person. The Assistant Director of the Centre, Lloyd Kuveya, brought the event to a close after a question and answer session between the panel and the audience.

The Director of the Centre for Human Rights, Professor Frans Viljoen, reading the Centre’s NGO statement to the African Commission reiterated the need to protect the rights of intersex persons: ‘We urge the Commission to take note of the study results, and consider adopting normative guidance (for example, in the form of a resolution) to assist states to correct the misunderstandings on intersex persons among the general public, and to provide legal protection to address the plight of intersex Africans through a human rights-based approach.’  

One of the objectives of this study is also to initiate informed debates and discussions at the African Commission. This was witnessed during the presentation of the State report by Ivory Coast. Responding to a question asked by the Chair of the African Commission, Commissioner Lumbu, Ivory Coast  state representative mentioned that there was ‘no discrimination’ against intersex persons as there is formal protection under Article 4 of the Constitution of Ivory Coast, which recognises sex as one of the grounds protected from discrimination. In his response, the state representative mentioned that there is an on-going study in the Ivory Coast on the state of human rights of intersex persons.

The Centre appreciates and values the contributions to the study and launch of the report by the African Intersex Movement (AIM) and intersex human rights defenders, who include Julius Kagwaa, James Karanja, Mphatso Sakala, Ryan Wangui and Ronnie Zuze.

For more information on this contact:

Prof Frans Viljoen
Director: Centre for Human Rights

Professor of International Human Rights Law

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3228
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


Tapiwa Mamhare
Project Officer: SOGIESC Unit
Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 5409
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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