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UN rights body adopts first resolution to protect rights of intersex people

FILE PHOTO: Intersex-Inclusive Pride flags hang across Regent Street in London

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday voted to adopt a resolution designed to protect the rights of intersex people, the first initiative of its kind that diplomats and rights groups described as an landmark moment for human rights.

Twenty-four countries voted in favour, twenty-three abstained and none voted against the resolution, which was spearheaded by Finland, South Africa, Chile and Australia.

The U.N. has cited experts as saying that 1.7% of babies are born intersex, defined as having sex characteristics that do not fit binary notions of male or female.

The resolution calls on states to "combat discrimination, violence and harmful practices against persons with innate variations in sex characteristics and address their root causes," as well as help intersex people "realize the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

It also requests that the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights publishes a report "examining in detail discriminatory laws and policies, acts of violence and harmful practices against persons with innate variations in sex characteristics, in all regions of the world."

"The adoption of the first-ever resolution on the Rights of Intersex Persons at #HRC55 marks a landmark advancement in human rights," U.S. Ambassador Michèle Taylor wrote on X, referring to the Human Rights Council's ongoing 55th session.

Human Rights Watch, which described the initiative as groundbreaking, said it signalled "growing international resolve to address rights violations experienced by people born with variations in their sex characteristics."

"This resolution marks yet another milestone in how international bodies are looking at the rights of intersex persons," 35 civil society organisations said in a statement published by ILGA World, a rights advocacy group. (This story was refiled to clarify the NGO that published statement in final paragraph)

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Peter Graff)