Published: 30/03/2019

On March 22, 2019 the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted without a vote a resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport including women born with variations of sex characteristics.

The resolution addresses the existing discriminatory regulations, rules and practices that require some women and girl athletes to medically reduce their blood testosterone levels as a response to the situation of Caster Semenya, a cisgender women and an athlete, born with a variation of sex characteristics, who is the target of 2018 IAAF regulations.

The resolution expresses concern that regulations, rules and practices that require women and girl  athletes  with  differences of sex  development,  androgen  sensitivity  and  levels  of testosterone to medically reduce their blood testosterone levels may contravene international human  rights  norms  and  standards,  including  the  right  to  equality and  non-discrimination, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to sexual and  reproductive  health,  the  right  to work  and  to  the  enjoyment  of just  and  favorable conditions  of  work, the  right  to  privacy,  the  right  to  freedom  from  torture or other  cruel, inhuman  or  degrading  treatment or  punishment,  and  full  respect  for  the  dignity,  bodily integrity and bodily autonomy of the person.

The resolution, brought by South Africa, also requests the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to prepare a report on the intersection of race and gender discrimination in sports, including in policies, regulations and practices of sporting bodies.

The IUF-affiliated South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) organized a protest together with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and civil society organizations at the Embassy of Switzerland on International Women’s Day. This was also to show our support of the South Africa government position on Caster Semenya.

They handed over a memorandum of their concerns and demands on Caster Semenya’s discrimination case to the Swiss Embassy in South Africa, so that the demands can be raised with the UNHRC.  The IUF welcomes this first UN resolution on the rights of intersex persons and congratulates SACCAWU for its contribution to this success.