UN rights chief welcomes Australia transgender passport move

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The UN rights chief on Friday welcomed Australia's move to allow citizens to choose "indeterminate" as a gender option on their passports, describing it as a "victory for human rights."

Canberra had previously required a person whose gender was different from that of their birth to have sex change surgery before they could change their passport details to reflect their preferred sex, and there was no "indeterminate" option.

"This is something that will be welcome news for many transgender and intersex people in Australia who from now on will not be required to undergo surgery or hormonal treatment in order to be able to express their gender identity," said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"By its action, Australia has placed itself in the vanguard of change and has scored an important victory for human rights," she added in a statement.

Noting that other countries including Nepal, Portugal, Britain and Uruguay also have taken measures to help transgender people or hermaphrodites get legal recognition of a gender change, or to indicate a gender other than male or female.

"I also urge other states around the world to review their own laws, policies, and practices to ensure that discrimination against transgender and intersex individuals is addressed in a systematic and effective way," she added.

© 2011 AFP

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