Swedish MPs propose circumcision ban

By Charlotte Oliver, September 25, 2013
The Riksdag, Sweden's parliament in central Stockholm (Photo: J. Elliot)

The Riksdag, Sweden's parliament in central Stockholm (Photo: J. Elliot)

A motion to ban the circumcision of males younger than 18, unless for medical purposes, has been presented to the Swedish parliament.

Two members of the right-wing, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party brought the motion forward on Tuesday. Their party, which holds only 20 of the 349 seats in parliament, argues it is the next step after Sweden’s ban on female genital mutilation.

Bjorn Soder and Per Ramhorn’s proposal involves overturning legislation passed in 2001 that allowed the circumcision of newborn babies if carried out by a “licensed professional”.

Currently ritual circumcision can be carried out with practitioners licensed by the Swedish health board . A nurse or doctor must be present at any circumcision.

Responding to the motion, which would affect Sweden’s 20,000 Jews, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the European Conference of Rabbis, said: “It betrays a dangerous ignorance of what is involved in the practice of milah as compared with the abhorrent practice of female genital mutilation.”

This proposal follows recent debates regarding non-medical circumcision across Scandinavia. Last year, a German court overturned a previous law that had banned ritual circumcision.

A date for a vote on the motion has not been set.

Last updated: 4:23pm, September 25 2013