October 22, 2014
Denmark to once again look at circumcision banNearly three fourths of Danes are in favour of banning [infant] male circumcision, a new poll revealed.
In a survey of over 1,000 Danes conducted by YouGov for Metroxpress newspaper, 74 percent of respondents wanted a full or partial ban on the practice while just ten percent supported giving parents the right to circumcise their sons.
The poll results come as parliament prepares to hold a hearing on the practice of circumcision on Wednesday. Left-wing party the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and libertarian party Liberal Alliance are in favour of a ban, while other parties report internal disagreement on the issue.
The debate about circumcision is a frequent topic in Denmark. Following extensive media coverage in both 2012 and 2013, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) carried out a study on the potential health risks and benefits of circumcision. In June 2013, the agency determined that there was neither enough risk to justify outlawing circumcision nor enough documentation of its benefits to generally recommend the practice.
Despite the health authorities’ findings, Wednesday’s hearing in parliament may be the first step toward an eventual ban.
“We will handle this topic politically within a few years. As I see it, it goes against the [UN’s] Convention on the Rights of the Child to circumcise children. I’m leaning toward a ban until the person is of legal age,” Venstre MP Hans Christian Schmidt, a former health minister, told Metroxpress.
According to Sundhedsstyrelsen, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark each [year], primarily on Jewish and Muslim boys. Male circumcision is almost universal in the Muslim world and highly prevalent in many African countries. It is also a popular practice in the United States where more than half of all boys are circumcised and in Canada, where a 2007 survey put the percentage at 31.9 percent.
Jair Melchior of the Jewish faith group Mosaisk Troessamfund cautioned politicians to not let opinion polls affect their stance on circumcision.
“The problem is that there are so many assertions in the debate on circumcising boys. If it was so dangerous, the Jewish community would have been the first to stop it. But it’s not,” Melchior told Metroxpress. [On the contrary, religion is the one reason that can override concerns of safety. Rabbis would earnestly debate how many brothers might be allowed to die of genital cutting before one might be spared, but only recently have any said "None".]
Like Denmark, neighbouring Sweden and Norway have also been discussing a ban on male circumcision. Following intense debate in 2012, Germany passed a law allowing religious circumcision.
Female circumcision is illegal in Denmark.