July 19, 2012
German parliament defends circumcision after banResolution to protect religious circumcision passes first hurdle in German parliament, decision would overrule Cologne court.
Germany's lower house of parliament passed a resolution on Thursday to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys after a district court ban on the practice outraged Muslims and Jews and sparked an emotional debate in the country.
The main political parties have criticized the ruling by a Cologne court and Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has promised a new law to make clear doctors or families will not be punished for carrying out the procedure.
The speed with which lawmakers agreed on the terms of the motion underscored sensitivity to charges of intolerance in a country haunted by its Nazi past.
The resolution, jointly filed by Merkel's conservatives, their liberal coalition ally (FDP) and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), demanded that "the government present a draft law in the autumn ... that guarantees that the circumcision of boys, carried out with medical expertise and without unnecessary pain, is permitted".
The new law would overrule the Cologne court decision.
Lawmakers noted in the resolution that the court ruling had deeply unsettled Muslims and Jews in Germany, as they feared the practice would now be outlawed, while doctors were alarmed at the threat of prosecution if they performed operations.
An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution, although the small opposition Left party opposed it, suggesting that infant boys could have a "symbolic circumcision" then undergo the actual operation when older.
The bill was rushed through in the same sitting as a vote on aid to Spain for which lawmakers were recalled from their holidays. [And are those events unconnected? Merkel's panic seems disproportionate to the number of people actually affected by an age-restriction.]
July 19, 2012
Germany's parliament endorses resolution supporting circumcision rightThough it has no legal status, resolution aimed at calming outcry against court's verdict banning circumcision of a minor; government to draft legislation later this year.
Germany's parliament passed a resolution Thursday endorsing the right of Muslim and Jewish parents to have sons circumcised.
The resolution, passed by a large majority on a show of hands, has no binding legal effect.
The government is expected to draft legislation later this year to protect doctors performing male circumcisions from prosecution.
Although Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that prohibiting the religious practice would make Germany a laughing stock, surveys show large numbers of Germans are hostile to circumcision and want it outlawed.
Christine Lambrecht, a Social Democratic legislator, said many Germans had written to her charging that a legal exemption for Jews and Muslims would also permit a practice in some African and Middle Eastern nations known as female circumcision.
"Genital mutilation has nothing to do with the circumcision of boys," she said. "That is a crime and it will stay that way."
The Left Party opposed infant circumcision on the grounds that a baby cannot consent. One of its legislators, Jens Petermann, told the parliament: "A decision by the parents cannot prevail over the consent of the child himself."
A survey by the YouGov polling company for dpa found 45 percent of Germans want circumcision to be outlawed, 42 percent want it kept legal and 13 percent had no opinion.
Some 55 percent said they did not believe a legal ban on circumcision would lead hostility to Germany abroad. The circumcision of boys for non-religious reasons is rare in Germany.
The parliamentary resolution was jointly drafted by legislators from Merkel's coalition and opposition Social Democrats and Greens.
"The Bundestag urges the government to propose a bill in autumn 2012 which, taking account of the constitutional values of child welfare, physical freedom from injury, religious freedom and parents' upbringing rights, ensures that the medically competent circumcision of boys without unnecessary pain remains basically permissible," it said.