Danish parliament set to debate proposal to ban circumcision


(JTA) — Denmark’s parliament is set to debate and possibly vote on whether nonmedical circumcision of boys should be banned after more than 50,000 people signed a petition requesting its criminalization.

The petition by the group Denmark Intact crossed the 50,000 mark Friday, four months after its launch. According to regulations passed in January, petitions approved for posting on the Danish parliament’s website are brought to a vote as nonbinding motions if they receive that level of support within six months.

The petition describes circumcision as a form of abuse and corporal punishment, equating it with female genital mutilation. The petition states that parents who have their children circumcised outside Denmark should be exposed to legal action in Denmark, which has 8,000 Jews and tens of thousands of Muslims.

But last week, spokespeople for all the parties in the Danish parliament stated their faction’s positions on the issue. The tally showed that a majority of lawmakers would vote against supporting a ban if the issue is brought to a vote, the Kristeligt Dagblad daily newspaper reported. Nonetheless, a vote on the petition is likely to take place in the fall unless its language is deemed unconstitutional.

Some parties, including large coalition partners, are split on the issue. But Finn Rudaizky, a former leader of the Jewish community of Denmark, said “parliament will not change the law” that currently allows circumcision. Still, he said, the petition “does mean a great deal because it shows just how many have involved themselves with this issue.”

Whereas some of those who oppose nonmedical circumcision do so because of their understanding of children’s rights, “many others use the situation to show that they are against Jews, Muslims and they can express anti-Semitism and xenophobia without admitting to it,” Rudaizky said. “I am not proud of this situation.”

No country in Europe has banned circumcision since the defeat of fascism in World War II.

In 2014, Denmark joined a handful of European Union countries that forbid the slaughter of animals for meat without stunning, as required by Jewish and Muslim religious laws. Earlier this week, Denmark joined several EU countries banning the wearing in public of face-covering garments, such as the burka and nikab veils favored by some Muslim women.

Iceland’s parliament earlier this year briefly processed a bill to ban circumcision. It was put on ice following a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to nix it amid international pressure.

Opposition to circumcision and the ritual slaughter of animals in Europe features liberal activists who cite humanist motivations and anti-immigration individuals who view the customs as undesirable foreign imports.

Recommended from JTA