The politician behind a bill in Iceland that would ban circumcision on children younger than 18 admitted that she didn’t consult Jewish and Muslim groups who would be affected by the ban.
“I didn’t think it was necessary to consult,” Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, a member of parliament from the Progressive Party, told The Independent on Monday. “I don’t see it as a religious matter.”
The bill, which is backed by parties making up 46% of the seats in parliament, would impose a punishment of up to six years in prison.
“Jews are welcome in Iceland. But this is about child protection and children’s rights. That comes first, and before the religious rights of the adult,” Gunnarsdóttir added.
Advocates of circumcision, including many medical professionals, say that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. The children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — including Iceland — released a joint statement in 2013 proposing bans on male circumcision in their countries, though none have been enacted.
“This is the biggest threat to Jewish life in Scandinavia,” Yair Melchior, the chief rabbi of Denmark, told the Forward last week. “It raises questions for us: ‘Does it mean we’re not wanted? Do we have a future here?’”
Iceland’s population of 300,000 includes several dozen Jews and a few hundred Muslims. The country’s first-ever full-time rabbi will arrive in May.