MP urges govt to recognize intersex persons as third gender

Wednesday October 19 2016

Nominated Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura.

Nominated Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura. FILE PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By COLLINS OMULO
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Nominated Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura has urged the registrar of persons to take immediate administrative action to recognise intersex people in the country.

Speaking on Wednesday at a press conference on intersex people at CVS Plaza, Mr Mwaura urged the National Assembly to enact or amend laws to facilitate their legal recognition such as amendments to Registration of Persons Act, Kenya National Examination Council Act, Registration of Births and Deaths Act and Basic Education Act, among other laws.

“We have to accept that there is a third gender. It is intersex, an in-between gender. These are people with ambiguous genitalia.

"It is therefore imperative to have laws that recognize their existence and also provide a box where intersex people can tick just like others who are either male or female,” said Mwaura.

Mr Mwaura also called for political support from Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary and society to ensure that intersex people are recognized under the law and have their rightful place in the society.

CREATE AWARENESS

“I remember when I first introduced this issue in Parliament. The leader of the majority in the National Assembly and other members of Parliament did not understand what I was talking about.

"This is because these people are marginalised and so we want to help them have recognition under the law as it pains to be discriminated [against] because of your sex,” said the MP.

Intersex is a complex biological form where children are born with either two sex organs or one visible organ while the other is hidden, malformed or deformed but present.

Speaking at the same event, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights member Jedidah Waruhiu said the first step of recognising an intersex child is often violated by the registrar of births through failure to issue them with a birth certificate contrary to Article 5 of the universal declaration on human rights.

“In Kenya, legal recognition is achieved through the issuance of a statutory documents known as acknowledgement of birth slip and birth certificate which is issued by the registrar of births and deaths.

"However, this first step of recognition is almost often violated the moment an intersex child is born,” said Ms Waruhiu.

She urged the National Assembly to enact legislation that guarantees non-discrimination of intersex people in all spheres of life, saying statistics from the Child Rights International Network show that there are over 20,000 intersex people in Kenya.

“Thousands of Kenyans born with the intersex condition continue to suffer in silence, having to bear the burden of not being recognized socially or legally by the Kenyan laws.

"We must break this silence and culture of isolation and stigmatisation so that all of us can live as normal human beings,” she said.

Kenya will mark it inaugural International Intersex Awareness Day on October 26 to begin creating awareness and understanding of the intersex community.