Danish Parliament Committee Approves Draft Resolution to Ban Circumcision

The Socialist People’s Party and the far-left Red-Green Alliance are the only parties in favor of a ban, according to Danmarks Radio. Between them, they have 21 seats out of the parliament’s 179

Denmark's parliament building, the Christiansborg Palace, is seen through railings in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
Bloomberg

A parliamentary committee in Denmark cleared the path for a nonbinding vote on a petition that calls for banning nonmedical circumcision of boys for humanitarian reasons.

The Folketingets Administration said Thursday that the text of the petition presented no constitutional obstacles.

A vote could be held before November, according to Lena Nyhus, an activist for the ban and an initiator of the petition.

The petition by the group Denmark Intact crossed the 50,000 mark in June, four months after its launch, Danmarks Radio reported. According to regulations passed in January, petitions approved for posting on the Danish parliament’s website are brought to a vote as nonbinding motions if they receive that level of support within six months and unless they are deemed unconstitutional.

Petitions that make the signature threshold are read out as resolutions, requiring the government to take no actions whether they pass or fail. Still, a vote in a major European parliament on whether circumcision should be banned would be a precedent in Europe after World War II, when the Nazis imposed and introduced anti-Semitic legislation and practices in many countries they occupied.

Jews circumcise males when they are 8 days old. Muslims perform the practice at a later age, but rarely after the boy turns 13.

The petition describes circumcision as a form of abuse and corporal punishment, equating it with female genital mutilation. The petition states that parents who have their children circumcised outside Denmark should be exposed to legal action in Denmark, which has 8,000 Jews and tens of thousands of Muslims.

But last week, when spokespeople for most of the parties in the Danish parliament provided their faction’s positions on the issue, a tally showed that a majority of lawmakers would vote against supporting a ban if the issue is brought to a vote, the Kristeligt Dagblad daily newspaper reported.

The Socialist People’s Party and the far-left Red-Green Alliance are the only parties in favor of a ban, according to Danmarks Radio. Between them, they have 21 seats out of the parliament’s 179.

However, it is not yet clear if the other parties will require their representatives in parliament to vote against the nonbinding motion calling for a ban.