Following the opinion survey of experts started at the beginning of May and the online survey of intersex persons and public hearing on 8 June 2011, the online discourse is the third stage of what is the first ever discourse project of the Ethics Council. It is intended to use modern technology to facilitate a debate on a broad social level.
The main part of the discourse platform http://diskurs.ethikrat.org is the weblog: here, until the end of July, entries by experts and intersex persons will be published twice a week – every Tuesday and Thursday – examining the topic of intersexuality from various perspectives. Interested persons are invited to discuss and comment on these authors' posts on the discussion platform http://diskurs.ethikrat.org in order to give the Ethics Council a better understanding of social attitudes and assessments.
In addition to the ongoing discussion, the discourse portal documents the opinion survey and the public hearing in the form of audio recordings and video statements in which not only intersex persons but also doctors, psychologists, lawyers, representatives of parents' initiatives, associations and organizations express their views.
It is one of the duties of the German Ethics Council enshrined in the Ethics Council Act to take up current social topics and encourage necessary social discussions. On the instructions of the Federal Government, the Council is preparing an Opinion on the topic of intersexuality by the end of the year 2011.
Intersexuality is a topic that is still taboo in public. It refers to a variety of forms of ambiguous gender identity. It occurs when the external and internal physical sex characteristics and the genetic characteristics of a person do not coincide and raises fundamental questions of medicine and ethics, of the fundamental rights of those affected and of our understanding of sexuality.