Law drafted to protect ‘sacred rite’
Germany’s cabinet has approved a draft law protecting the right to circumcise infant boys, aiming to end months of legal uncertainty after a local court banned the practice, causing outrage among Muslims and Jews.
The June ruling by a Cologne district court that circumcision constituted “bodily harm” sparked an emotional national debate about religious freedom and the procedure itself.
An embarrassed German government pledged to bring in new legislation by the autumn to safeguard the right of parents to have their sons circumcised.
“It was always our intention to lift this ruling,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
Parliament must still approve the bill for it to become law.
The speed with which national MPs agreed to draw up a new law underscored sensitivity to charges of intolerance in a country haunted by its Nazi past.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany risked becoming a laughing stock if Jews were not allowed to practise their rituals. The bill states that the operation should take place with the most effective pain relief possible and only if parents have been fully informed about the nature of the procedure.
The court ban had applied only to the Cologne region but doctors across Germany refused to carry out operations fearing the risk of legal action.
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