BERLIN, Jul 19 – German MPs were to pass a cross-party motion on Thursday calling on the government to protect religious circumcision after a court ruling branding it a crime sparked outrage both at home and abroad.
The resolution calls on Berlin to draw up legislation “in the autumn” that “ensures that the circumcision of boys carried out to medially professional standards and without undue pain is fundamentally permissible.”
In a ruling published in June, a court in the western city of Cologne said circumcision was tantamount to grievous bodily harm, a verdict Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said risked making Germany a “laughing stock.”
Diplomats admit that the ruling has proved “disastrous” to Germany’s international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past, following uproar from religious and political leaders in Israel as well as Muslim countries.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of the circumcision debate before the Bundestag lower house that he was glad that the parliament was taking “quick and decisive action”.
“The resolution shows that we live in a tolerant and cosmopolitan country. No one in the world would understand it if Germany banned its Jewish citizens from having their boys circumcised,” added the minister.
Protecting religious rites and traditions was part and parcel of ensuring religious tolerance, said Westerwelle.
However, while parliament appeared relatively united on the issue, a survey suggested that the population at large was more divided.
A YouGov poll for local news agency DPA said 45 percent of those asked were in favour of forbidding the rite of circumcision, with 42 percent opposed to a ban.
One-third of those polled thought a nationwide ban would harm Germany’s image in the world and 55 percent disagreed.