Berlin — Germany’s Justice Ministry proposed to amend a law on the circumcison of male children to safeguard the rights of Jews and Muslims to perform the ritual.
The amendment, which aims to cement religious rights while responding to critics of the practice, would allow ritual circumcision only with parental consent and performed by a practitioner according to medical standards, and only with the strongest degree of anesthetic medically allowable given the child’s age.
While Jews circumcise healthy infant boys on the eighth day, Muslims often perform the procedure on older children.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger composed the text. If approved by the parliament, a paragraph would be added to the law code on the rights of children.
According to the law on “the circumcision of male children,” it would remain a commission of “bodily injury” but would not be punishable as long as parents followed the law’s requirements, according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung national daily newspaper.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany has not responded officially to the proposal. The deputy head of the Association of Turks in Germany greeted the proposal positively, the German news agency DPA reported.
The new proposal follows months of debate sparked by a controversial ruling issued last May by Cologne District Court that criminalized non-medical circumcisions of minors. Jewish and Muslim groups in a rare show of solidarity demonstrated together recently in Berlin against what both groups see as an attempt to curtail religious freedom.
Representatives of the Green Party, the Social Democrats and the Left Party already have protested the new proposal, according to DPA, calling it “alarming” that the protection of a child from bodily harm seems to have taken secondary importance.