Tasmania legal panel proposes ban on circumcisions

Tasmania legal panel proposes ban on circumcisions

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[JURIST] The Australian state of Tasmania moved closer to passing a ban on circumcision [NIH backgrounder] after the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) [official website] issued a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday recommending that the state ban circumcision except for well-established religious and ethnic reasons. In the report, the TLRI argued that circumcision should be banned in most instances because it allegedly can have a negative effect on children’s long-term mental health and that it is unclear whether the procedure has any public health benefits:

Trauma from circumcision in childhood can also have a long lasting and significant effect on a person’s mental health. … No authoritative health policy maker in any jurisdiction with a frequency of relevant health conditions as low as that in Australia recommends circumcision as an individual or public health measure. … [T]he law ought to condemn the waning tradition of circumcising … boys for secular non-ethnicity related social reasons.

The TLRI noted in the report, however, that religious groups that perform circumcisions, such as Jews and Muslims, should still be allowed to do so.

Circumcision [JURIST news archive] remains controversial throughout the world. In July the Bundestag [official website, in German], the lower house of the German parliament, was expected [JURIST report] to vote on a bill [text, PDF, in German] that would protect religious circumcision in Germany. The session came a week after the German government announced [JURIST report] its plan to act swiftly to lift criminal sanctions imposed on circumcision. In October California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed into law a bill that prevents local governments from banning [JURIST report] male circumcision. The law was written in response to a ballot measure proposed in San Francisco that would have made male circumcision illegal if the recipient was under the age of 18, with perpetrators penalized by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment.