ONTD Political

German Lawmakers Vote to Protect Right to Circumcision

2:05 pm - 12/13/2012
German lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation ensuring parents the right to have their boys circumcised, bringing a close to months of legal uncertainty set off by a regional court’s ruling that equated the practice with bodily harm.

The measure passed by a vote of 434 to 100, with 46 abstentions, in Germany’s lower house of Parliament, the Bundestag. The vote followed months of emotional debate, and angered and alienated many German Jews and Muslims, for whom circumcision is a religious rite, integral to their beliefs.

But opponents of the bill, including 66 lawmakers who had proposed a version of the legislation that would have banned the procedure for boys younger than 14, insisted that removing a healthy body part from a child too young to have a say in the matter violates basic human rights.

Before the vote, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Germany’s justice minister, urged lawmakers to consider the far-reaching implications of their decision.

“There is no country in the world where the circumcision of boys for religious reasons is considered a criminal act,” Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said. “With this legislation, the German government makes clear that Jewish and Muslim life is clearly welcome in Germany.”

The Cologne court’s ruling provoked outrage in Israel, Turkey, the United States and elsewhere. It proved an embarrassment to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, painfully aware that postwar Germany can ill afford to be seen as supporting such a dangerous message of intolerance. Most of Germany’s four million Muslims are from Turkey or of Turkish descent.

“I find it particularly sad that in the necessary weighing of the various legal elements in the circumcision debate, every level of inhibition appears to have been lost to finally tell Jews and Muslims what is good for them,” Ms. Merkel said at a gathering of Jewish leaders in November, after months of fractious debate on the issue. The legislation must also be approved by the upper house of Parliament, the Bundesrat, which is expected to pass it.

Unlike common practice in the United States, infant boys in Germany and most other European countries are not routinely circumcised for health reasons. Consequently, the practice is unfamiliar to the general public, even to most lawmakers voting on Wednesday, as Aydan Ozoguz pointed out.

“It is a particular challenge that among this body, only very few members belong to the Jewish or Muslim faiths,” said Ms. Ozoguz, a lawmaker from the opposition Social Democratic Party, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents. She pointed out that a ban on the practice in the early years of a boy’s life would “create an opportunity for Jews and Muslims to be pursued by prosecutors and as a result, sweepingly criminalized.”

The Cologne court ruling legally applied only to the doctor who had removed the foreskin of a 4-year-old Muslim boy, who then suffered complications in November 2010. Nevertheless, it had a ripple effect, leading hospitals from Berlin to Zurich to suspend circumcisions and emboldening a movement against the procedure that had previously gone largely unnoticed.

Under the legislation, circumcisions that are not deemed necessary for medical reasons must nevertheless be carried out “in accordance with medical practice.” Specially qualified members of a religious community may perform a circumcision only during the first six months of a boy’s life; afterward, it must be carried out by a doctor.

The bill also stipulates that both parents consent to the procedure, but does not require them to give a reason, religious or otherwise, for seeking to have it done.

Doctors at Berlin’s Jewish Hospital welcomed the vote. The hospital was one of several in Germany that had suspended circumcisions after the Cologne court’s decision.

“For us, circumcision was a matter of course,” said Gerhard Nerlich, a hospital spokesman. “We have been performing circumcisions for decades. We welcome the right to continue to do so.”

the ny times.

since we had a post about this ruling when it first happened, i thought a follow-up was in order.
angelofdeath275 13th-Dec-2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
Glad for the ruling

Wil not be so glad for the comments tho
telemann 13th-Dec-2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
ditto your sentiment.
aviv_b 13th-Dec-2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
ditto both of your sentiments.
yeats 13th-Dec-2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
i almost didn't post it for that exact reason...but then i decided that it was an important step by a western nation to respect minority religious practices and probably deserved to be noted in the comm. the politics of antisemitism and islamophobia in europe aren't pretty, but it's important we talk about the whole story.

(also i found the line about the chilling effect that the initial ruling had had especially relevant to the previous community debate, because there was so much back and forth about whether the decision by a single court on a single family would have any impact.)

Edited at 2012-12-13 09:23 pm (UTC)
angelofdeath275 13th-Dec-2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah this is a very important update I agree...but _p and it's continual fail wrt racism and ANY kind of intersection is fucking infuriating. We already that damn post about that black newscaster fired over her hair filled with white people. I so don't want comments from fellow non-Jews injecting their irrelevant comment about circumcision.

But damn is circumcision such a wanly topic :/
yeats 13th-Dec-2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
i totally get that. hopefully the initial reactions of ppl in this post will make anyone who was gonna start shit think twice about it.
aviv 13th-Dec-2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Well, the ruling had a "gravitational effect"*, as in setting the mood for others courts/impacting the way the hospitals responded, but in Germany (and in all the countries with a "civil law" system) rulings only affect their case and do not constitute a precedent.

*that's the term one of my law professor uses and apparently he made it up xD
yeats 13th-Dec-2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
no, i know that the ruling didn't impact the legal status of circumcision, but as this article writes, it clearly impacted the behavior of doctors.
aviv 13th-Dec-2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, tbh I find that the doctors kind of exagerated reacting that way :/
moonshaz 13th-Dec-2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
thecityofdis 13th-Dec-2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
YEP. i don't even know why i'm in here. i shouldn't be allowed, for my own good.
wrestlingdog 13th-Dec-2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
My feelings exactly.
aviv 13th-Dec-2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
keeni84 14th-Dec-2012 12:01 am (UTC)
wikilobbying 14th-Dec-2012 05:19 am (UTC)
i hesitated looking at comments for this very reason. it's still early but for the love of all things good in this world, i hope ontd_p behaves on this for once.
zinnia_rose 13th-Dec-2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
I am pretty strongly against circumcision, BUT this is a good ruling. Among other things, Germany banning a practice that is heavily practiced by Jews would be a really terrible idea on so many levels.
lady_borg 13th-Dec-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
I have to agree. I disagree with circing but I am glad that boys will at least be able to have it done in a safe manner.
cinnamontoast 14th-Dec-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
Sometimes a single comment thread can solidify or change my mind about something. This is one of this times. I don't have a strong opinion about male circumcision, but now I have a strong one for having the practice carried out safely. It's not something I thought about before.
stellaglam 13th-Dec-2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
Agreed, banning something as entrenched as religious circumcision is NOT the way to do it. I don't agree with circing but there are so many other factors at play here that banning it is obviously not the best choice....
idemandjustice 14th-Dec-2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel as well.
kitanabychoice 13th-Dec-2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad they came to this conclusion.
aviv 13th-Dec-2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that there's always so much wank on these posts because the majority commenting are americans who know of non-religious circumcision. Because if you see this from the point of view of jewish and/or muslim people, it's really more easy to understand why you would want your child circumcised.

Soooo, think before you talk/write :) ?

*Edited -twice- for missings words*

Edited at 2012-12-13 10:58 pm (UTC)
maynardsong 13th-Dec-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
But most American guys /like/ being circumcised...
aviv 14th-Dec-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
But the majority who are against circumcision, in this comm, are american.

ETA: or was this sarcasm??

Edited at 2012-12-14 12:12 am (UTC)
lady_borg 14th-Dec-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
That could be just the amount of Americans on here, last I checked or saw, there are more Americans on this comm than there are from anywhere else.
aviv 14th-Dec-2012 12:46 am (UTC)
Mmmm, that's a good point
zinnia_rose 14th-Dec-2012 05:15 am (UTC)
Sure, but men (American and otherwise) also like not being circumcised. Guys think their dicks are the best thing ever no matter what.
natyanayaki 14th-Dec-2012 05:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, and it does kinda suck for guys who didn't have the choice to be circumcised or not...but I guess the best decision was made in this case particularly because of the nation's history.
lickety_split 14th-Dec-2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
As long as the dick gets hard when it needs to, most men don't even think about it.
idemandjustice 14th-Dec-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
I know a number who are against it.
terra_tenshi 14th-Dec-2012 03:01 am (UTC)
"I was thinking that there's always so much wank on these posts because the majority commenting are americans who know of non-religious circumcision."

That and the fact that in a lot of countries some religious acts are banned for whatever reason and others aren't which feeds into arguments and debates and curiosity.
lickety_split 14th-Dec-2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
I've noticed it's mostly American, cis-gendered (non-POC) women that are heading this "movement". All the dudes I've asked (some that have had circumcisions and some that haven't) are honestly surprised that it's even an issue that people are passionately against.
4o5pastmidnight 15th-Dec-2012 02:38 am (UTC)
Pretty much this. I have only known one male ever that has been vehemently opposed to circumcision and is angry his parents did it. I do know of quite a few uncircumcised males who wish their parents had done it, though.

Pretty much every other guy I know doesn't give a shit. If they're circumcised, they like being circumcised and think it's the way to go. If they're uncircumcised, they like being uncircumcised and think it's the way to go.
wrestlingdog 14th-Dec-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
I like how about half the comments in here so far are about not wanting wank.

But seriously, I'm glad they decided to allow it.
lickety_split 14th-Dec-2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
Better than having actual wank.
jettakd 14th-Dec-2012 03:58 am (UTC)
johnjie 14th-Dec-2012 09:49 am (UTC)
Strongly against infant circumcision (and I'm not American) but people have a right to freedom of religion and it's good that they've decided to protect it.
lickety_split 14th-Dec-2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
I FIND THIS PRACTICE ABHORRENT BUT (insert disingenuous expression of relief and happiness here).

Talk about backhanded support.

Edited at 2012-12-14 08:26 pm (UTC)
4o5pastmidnight 15th-Dec-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
angelofdeath275 15th-Dec-2012 03:50 am (UTC)
I mean did they read the very comment and the thread below or
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