German Court Rules Circumcision To Be Unlawful

It may be me but there is something particularly unnerving about Germans declaring circumcisions illegal. Yet, a court in Cologne has declared that Jewish and Muslim parents who circumcise their sons for religious reasons are committing child abuse.


The Court held that a legal guardian’s authority over a child does not allow them to subject them to the procedure and further found that religious freedom does not justify the commission of physical harm on a child. The case involved a Muslim doctor, who performed circumcision on a four-year-old boy at his parents’ request and the boy had to be hospitalized due to complications. What is interesting is that the court somehow heard of the incident and launched a criminal investigation.

The decision strikes me as an overreach given the continued division of opinion over the benefits of the procedure. There is also the possibility of an appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court. Like many countries, Germany has more specialized courts than does the United States and this issue would appear ripe for such review.

Source: RT

59 thoughts on “German Court Rules Circumcision To Be Unlawful”

  1. Berliner, Thanks for weighing in, you added so info the original article did not have and that’s helpful.

  2. I will repeat for those who have difficulty comprehending things:

    The bottom line about circumcision is that it is a ritual that separates men from other animals, and it is a reminder that men should forever strive to live above the law of the jungle.

    When the procedure is perperformed by a mohel, there are no problems. However, I do also understand that some of you would rather be animals than human beings, and prefer the law of the jungle, so your objections to circumcision are noted.

  3. In the US, between 1 and 5 boys per year lose their penis due to a medically unnecessary, religiously motivated circumcision.

    THEY LOSE THEIR DICK, FOLKS! I cannot imagine anything more disturbing, except for female genital mutilation, which is in the same vein.

    Anyone who does not oppose this ancient barbaric custom is insane.

    INSANE!!!

    You hear me, you sick, brainwashed disgusting perverts? Stop fiddling around with your childrens’ genitals. Just stop! Civilized people around the world have had enough of this madness.

  4. The court actually didn’t rule that “parents who circumcise their sons for religious reasons are committing child abuse,” they’ve ruled that the doctor performing a non-medically indicated circumcision commits “causing bodily harm” (German penal code §223) because the consent of the parents is void.

    (And what’s with the federal coat of arms? This was a North Rhine-Westphalian court, not a federal one.)

    Bette Noir,

    but small children (4 y/o in this case) usually don’t engage in sex and therefore aren’t at risk to get STDs at this point in their live anyway.
    If that boy gets old enough to consent to sex, he will be old enough to consent to a “preventive” circumcision too.

    Gene H.,

    “… Article 4 invoking religious freedom is pretty clear …”

    … but so is Article 2 guaranteeing bodily integrity.

    Religious freedoms are limited by the rights of other persons. And a child is a “other person,” it is neither a part of the parents body nor is it their property.

    The medical consent resulting form guardianship of the parents does only cover interventions “in the presumed interests of the child.”
    And to make an irreversible but purely religious motivated medical procedure before the child himself can freely choose his religion could reasonably be seen as not in the presumed interests of the child.

    IMHO the most convincing argument is “due to its history Germany shouldn’t do that before it’s the common position.”
    But that is purely realpolitik, not justice: if something is wrong, it’s wrong in Germany too.

    I don’t know how the Federal Constitutional Court will rule if it comes before them.

  5. Ralph Adamo – heres what I have difficulty understanding, maybe you can clarify. God made us perfect, in his image. Then he tells us to cut the ends of our dicks off; whats up with that? Also Leviticus is very clear that anyone who mutilates their body is not permitted into the Temple and yet God told us to cut the end of our dicks off.

    German courts are no more confusing than that

  6. “You’ve been messin’ where you shouldn’t have been a messin’ …”

    (These Boots…, Nancy Sinatra)

  7. And a little more time on google shows studies that the benefits of circumcision vis a vis HIV may not be as previously reported.
    http://www.salem-news.com/fms/pdf/2011-12_JLM-Boyle-Hill.pdf

    But that’s really neither here nor there. Nobody (or at least very few) people in the Western world would accept public health arguments or superstitious arguments for female genital mutilation. It’s past time that we stopped accepting them for male circumcision of infants. If a man wishes to be “cut”, let him do that when he is old enough to make the decision for himself.

  8. Bette Noir, but the majority of men and women with HIV are in Africa and in countries that have the highest rate of circumcision or rates commensurate with the US.

    And what Pulsar said.

  9. Being against female “circumcision” – better: gential mutilation – it is only consistent to be against male circumcision as well.

    The right of the parents to practice their religion is not violated by this decision. And whoever wants to be genitally mutilated can still do it – as an adult who knows (or should know) what s/he is doing.
    However religion must not be an excuse to harm newborns or children.

    And the best method for not getting HIV is sex education and using condoms (or being abstinent, for those who believe that has any higher value) but certainly not genital mutilation of babies.

    Btw it was the doctor at the hospital who reported the case to the court.

  10. I am sympathetic to those that would like to ban circumcisions, regardless, it should not be classified as child abuse and Germany is not the country to be taking point on this.

  11. Agreed, this is not a matter for court intervention. However, this story does raise the issue of who should perform circumcisions. I believe that such important procedures should be left to the experts. And in the case of circumcisions, those experts are what the Hebrews call the mohelim.

    There is an old, classic fake commercial from Saturday Night Live, from the Dan Akroyd era that hilariously makes this clear. The point of the commercial is to show just how smooth the ride of a certain model car is. To demonstrate, a mohel is engaged to perform a circumcision on 8-day old male while riding in the back of the automobile driving at top speed. At the end of the brief speedy ride, the procedure is completed, and the mohel emerges with the child, and all, of course, is well.

    As for the “controversy” of the procedure, the arguments against it are much ado about nothing, and its most fervent attackers are from persons of most questionnable character and motives, such as certain political activists in San Francisco.

    In the Book of Genesis as a mark of the Covenant between G-d and the descendants of Abraham: “Throughout all generations, every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old…This shall be my covenant in your flesh, an eternal covenant. The uncircumcised male whose foreskin has not been circumcised, shall have his soul cut off from his people; he has broken my Covenant”

    In Leviticus: “G-d spoke to Moses, telling him to speak to the Israelites: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy … on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

    The bottom line about circumcision is that it is a ritual that separates men from other animals, and it is a reminder that men should forever strive to live above the law of the jungle.

  12. It is not just me. It was the United States which specifically outlawed the very conduct of this article and prosecuted lawyers and judges who approved it, condoned it, promoted it. A German judge in 2012 will have some semblance of history whereas we Americans will forget that which we once pledged Never Forget. Here is a description of a portion of the Nuremberg U.S. Military Trials held at the Palace of Justice:

    “The Judges’ Trial (or the Justice Trial, or, officially, The United States of America vs. Josef Altstötter, et al.) was the third of the 12 trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the “Subsequent Nuremberg Trials” or, more formally, as the “Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals” (NMT).
    The defendants in this case were 16 German jurists and lawyers. Nine had been officials of the Reich Ministry of Justice, the others were prosecutors and judges of the Special Courts and People’s Courts of Nazi Germany. They were — amongst other charges — held responsible for implementing and furthering the Nazi “racial purity” program through the eugenic and racial laws.
    The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal III, were Carrington T. Marshall (presiding judge), former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio; James T. Brand, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon; Mallory B. Blair, formerly judge of the Third Court of Appeals of Texas; and Justin Woodward Harding of the Bar of the State of Ohio as an alternate judge. Marshall had to retire due to illness on June 19, 1947, at which point Brand became president and Harding a full member of the tribunal. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; his deputy was Charles M. LaFollette. The indictment was presented on January 4, 1947; the trial lasted from March 5 to December 4, 1947. Ten of the defendants were found guilty; four received sentences for lifetime imprisonment, the rest prison sentences of varying lengths. Four persons were acquitted of all charges.”

    Google this topic and get educated folks. There is a book in print called : Tyranny On Trial, by Whitney Harris. Great book.

    No, you can not cut part of my penis off for some religious dogma in Germany in 2012 and get away with it like maybe you could have between 1933 and 1945. This dog will see you in court. Preference of venue would be Nuremberg. The Jurors there might not have forgotten. Never Forget!

  13. I’d love to hear what Berliner has to say about this, but I don’t think it will withstand review. Article 4 invoking religious freedom is pretty clear and so is Article 19’s “In no case may the essence of a basic right be infringed.” Since there are medical pros and cons to the procedure and the parents were acting in accord with their legal status and right to raise their children in a religious tradition they deem fit, it seems like the argument against this ruling probably has stronger footing than the child’s best interests. It’s not as if they acted negligently either. They took the kid to a medical doctor and reasonably relied upon his experience to the child’s detriment. Honestly, it sounds like either medical malpractice or misadventure depending on the nature of the complications.

  14. I see nothing unnerving about banning a procedure that amounts to mutilation of a child with no life-saving or life-aiding benefit. It’s one thing to have a kid have surgery to correct something that will hurt them or kill them, but to mutilate someone for your religion before they have a choice is absurd.

  15. The Germans still haven’t learned to keep their noses out of other’s religions? I agree Professor, it is very unnerving. It is not a long stride from this decision and beginning to start a campaign of hate.

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