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Germany approves draft law allowing circumcisions

The German Cabinet [official website] on Wednesday approved a draft law that would legalize circumcisions [JURIST news archive]. The law comes in response to a Cologne state court [official website, in German] ruling [JURIST report] that circumcision of minors for religious reasons is prohibited. Though the court's judgment was limited to the Cologne region, the ruling sparked outrage in religious communities, and doctors refused to carry out the procedure [Reuters report] because of the potential for legal action. The new law requires [Bild report, in German] that the procedure be done professionally, the parents be fully informed about the procedure, proper pain management steps be taken and the best interest of the child be taken into account. Ideally, this law meant to end the uncertainty [Reuters report] surrounding the legality of the practice in Germany.

Late last month the German Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ) [official website, in German] drafted [JURIST report] a similar law to allow circumcisions. Earlier that month a German state official clarified that circumcision for religious reasons is legal [JURIST report] in Berlin. This clarification was made necessary by the Cologne court's ruling in July that prompted a Jewish hospital in Berlin to ask the justice minister to clarify the legality surrounding the circumcision procedure. Shortly after the controversial Cologne ruling, the German government announced [JURIST report] that it would act swiftly to lift criminal sanctions imposed on circumcision. Spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German], Steffen Seibert, said that without adequate protections for the practice of circumcision, Jewish and Muslim communities would not be able to live in Germany because the practice is so fundamental to the groups.

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