Posts Tagged ‘ religious ceremonies ’

German Court Rules Against Circumcisions of Minors

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

In a move that one rabbi called “fatal to the freedom of religion,” a German court has ruled that boys cannot be circumcised because the practice inflicts bodily harm on children who are not able to give their own consent for the procedure.  The Guardian newspaper has more:

A judge at a Cologne court said that the circumcision of minors went against a child’s interests because it led to a physical alteration of the body, and because people other than the child were determining its religious affiliation.

Religious leaders said the court had stepped into a minefield with its decision, which undermined their religious authority and contravened Germany’s constitution.

Ali Demir, chairman of the Religious Community of Islam in Germany, said: “I find the ruling adversarial to the cause of integration and discriminatory against all the parties concerned.”

Dieter Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, called it “an egregious and insensitive measure” which amounted to “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities’ right of determination.”

The ruling followed a lengthy legal battle, sparked when a Muslim couple decided to have their son circumcised, specifically for religious reasons, by a Muslim doctor in Cologne. The doctor, identified only as Dr K, carried out the circumcision on the four-year old boy in November 2010, before giving the wound four stitches. The same evening, he visited the family at home to check up on the boy. When the boy began bleeding again two days later, his parents took him to the casualty department of Cologne’s University hospital. The hospital contacted the police, who then launched an investigation. The doctor was charged with bodily harm, and the case was taken to court.

While the court acquitted Dr. K on the grounds that he had not broken any law, it concluded that circumcision of minors for religious reasons should be outlawed, and that neither parental consent nor religious freedom justified the procedure. It ruled that in future doctors who carried out circumcisions should be punished.

The court weighed up three articles from the basic law: the rights of parents, the freedom of religious practice and the right of the child to physical integrity, before coming to the conclusion that the procedure was not in the interests of the child.

It rejected the defence that circumcision is considered hygienic in many cultures, one of the main reasons it is carried out in the US, Britain and in Germany.

After much deliberation, it concluded that a circumcision, “even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent.”

Image: The German flag, via Shutterstock.

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Circumcision Bill Removed from San Francisco Ballot

Monday, August 1st, 2011

A ballot measure that would ban circumcisions, even those performed for religious reasons, in California has been removed from the ballot by a San Francisco judge, CNN.com is reporting.  The city’s Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi wrote that male circumcision is “a widely practiced medical procedure” and that medical services are left to the regulation of the state, not individual cities.

The decision was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California branch: “It’s unusual for a judge to order an initiative off the ballot, but the proposed circumcision ban presented that rare case where the court should block an election on an initiative,” said ACLU-NC staff attorney Margaret Crosby in a statement.  ”Not only is the ban patently illegal,  it also threatened family privacy and religious freedom.  The court’s order protects fundamental constitutional values in San Francisco.”

Anti-circumcision activists were disappointed in the ruling.

“To remove an initiative before it comes on ballot is an extraordinarily irregular thing to do,” Lloyd Schofield, who is part of a Bay Area advocacy group that says the surgery violates human rights and likens it to “male genital mutilation,” told CNN, “To go to this length to have it struck from the ballot is undemocratic.”

Last week in Santa Monica, the other California city considering an anti-circumcision ballot measure, the city council heard a request from the Mayor’s office to support pending state legislation that would put male circumcision under the regulatory control of the state, preventing any local bans from being enforceable.

The ballot measure would have made circumcision a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

(image via: http://www.justicebenefitsinc.com)

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