In the News: Denmark and Iceland May Ban Non-Medical Circumcision

Denmark Talks (Reluctantly) About a Ban on Circumcising Boys, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, New York Times, 2018-06-02

In Denmark, any proposal that can gather 50,000 signatures on Parliament’s official petition website is legally entitled to a debate and vote. A citizens’ petition demanding a minimum age of 18 for circumcision to protect “children’s fundamental rights” reached that threshold on Friday. […]

“It will put children’s rights ahead of their parents’ religious rights,” said Naser Khader, a member of Parliament and spokesman on human rights and legal affairs for the Conservative Party, which is a junior partner in the governing coalition. […]

A similar measure has passed an initial parliamentary vote in Iceland, but it is yet to become law and might never do so.

The Danish proposal is unlikely to achieve a majority vote in Parliament, but one recent survey, by the polling company Megafon for the television network TV2, found that 83 percent of voters supported a ban on circumcising boys. Political support for the measure has horrified many Danish Jews and Muslims — the operation is relatively uncommon in Denmark, and carried out almost exclusively for religious reasons. […] A string of Danish organizations working on health or children’s rights discourage circumcision on ethical grounds, […]

The United States Embassy in Denmark has raised concerns about the anti-circumcision proposal “from the perspective of freedom of religion,” according to a statement given by its first secretary and public affairs officer, Daniel J. Ernst, to the daily newspaper Politiken. “While the American government can’t tell Denmark how to legislate on male circumcision, it is making its position clear,” he wrote.

Iceland Plans to Ban Circumcision, Jóhann Páll Ástvaldsson, Iceland Review, 2018-03-29.

Iceland made headlines around the world as a proposed bill to ban the circumcision of young males raised attention. Circumcision of young male has featured prominently in the national debate recently due to the bill. The proposed bill claims that non-medical circumcision of boys violates their human rights, as they have no say in the decision. Circumcision of young females has been banned since 2005, and the bill proposes that the law should also include a ban on the circumcision of young males. The bill has raised quite the furore as both Jewish and Muslim religious leaders have denounced it.

[…] public opinion in Iceland is generally positive towards the bill. The thinking goes so that adults should not affect young children’s lives with a decision that they do not have a say in. Furthermore, the procedure could affect the health of the child, as there is some danger of an infection, or further complications with the surgery. It is first and foremost an issue of protecting the child as the operation is an irredeemable operation that the children have no say in.

The bill has not been without its detractors as they claim it would stifle their religious freedom. […]

Bravo! Genital mutilation should be strictly banned, for boys as well as for girls. It is completely unacceptable that religions be allowed to impose their practices in violation of the physical integrity of children.

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