Iceland MP aims to ban circumcision 

Iceland MP aims to ban circumcision 

Male circumcision could be outlawed for the first time under a draft law in Iceland that has positioned children’s rights campaigners against religious leaders.

Circumcising a boy for non-medical reasons would be punishable by up to six years in prison under the proposal by Silja Dogg Gunnarsdottir, an MP from the centre-right Progressive Party. She proposed the legislation, which has broad parliamentary and public support, to ensure that male babies are protected in a similar way as girls after a ban on female genital mutilation in 2005.

One in three males globally is thought to be circumcised, with the vast majority for religious or cultural reasons.

The proposed bill says in Icelandic that circumcision “involves permanent interventions in a child’s body that can cause severe pain”.

“I see it as a child protection matter,” she told the media. “In Iceland we acknowledge the right to believe but we also acknowledge the right and freedom of everyone to choose.

“We are talking about children’s rights, not about freedom of belief. Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to belief.”

The bill says the circumcision of young boys violates their rights and the United Nations convention on the rights of the child.

The bill says some circumcisions are performed without anaesthesia, claiming the procedure is often carried out “in homes that are not sterile, and not by doctors but by religious leaders. There is a high risk of infections under such conditions that may lead to death.”

Iceland has an estimated 250 Jewish citizens and around 1,500 Muslims, who have pointed to similar tensions over religious dress and the ritual slaughter of animals for meat.

The Nordic Jewish Communities said circumcision was “the most central rite” in the faith.

“You are about to attack Judaism in a way that concerns Jews all over the world,” an open letter argued.

Jewish campaign group Milah UK said comparisons with female genital mutilation were unwarranted and in male circumcision there was “no recognised long-term negative impact on the child”.

Imam Ahmad Seddeeq at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Iceland was critical.

Circumcision was “part of our faith,” he said.

“It’s something that touches our religion and I believe that this is… a contravention [of] religious freedom.”

Bishop of Reykjavik Agnes Sigurðardóttir said any ban could make Jews and Muslims feel “unwelcome” on the island.

“The danger that arises, if this bill becomes law, is that Judaism and Islam will become criminalised religions,” she argued. “We must avoid all such forms of extremism.”

 

 

Picture credit: Pixabay

 

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