July 20, 2012
Support for Religious Traditions
Politicians Welcome German Circumcision MotionGermany's parliament approved a resolution on Thursday that called on Berlin to create legislation that would ensure that circumcision of boys remain legal in the country. The move is intended to quiet international outrage over a recent German court ruling that criminalizes the tradition.
The co-head of Germany's opposition Green Party also supported the measure. "A circumcision ban would disregard and ostracize long cultural and religious traditions that are part of Jewish and Muslim life," said Claudia Roth, who called for expedited legislation ensuring that circumcision remains legal.
Child Rights Groups Oppose Quick Law
But not all were pleased by the decision, including the Federation of German Criminal Police (BDK). "Our constitution cannot be limited by a simple law, as parliament is currently trying to do in panic," BDK chief André Schulz told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper. "The freedom of parents to practice religion will nevertheless be limited by a child's more important right to physical integrity."
Meanwhile, a group of child-protective organizations has also issued a petition calling for a two-year delay on any new law on circumcision so that the issue could be debated more intensely by experts. The groups include the BDK as well as Deutsche Kinderhilfe (German Children's Aid) and the German Association of Physicians in Child and Adolescent Medicine. In the petition, they warn that a working group should be created before taking any legal steps that could permit the "serious and irreparable intrusion on the physical integrity of a child." The petition claims that complications arise in 10 percent of circumcision cases.
In Germany, public opinion is mixed over circumcision. A survey conducted this week by pollster YouGov for the German news agency DPA found that 45 percent of Germans support a ban on circumcision of boys, whereas 42 percent were opposed to it and 13 percent undecided. Fifty-five percent said they did not believe a national ban on circumcision would damage Germany's image abroad, compared to 33 percent who thought it would.