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Germany

Germany approves bill to protect male circumcision

German lawmakers have approved a bill to keep male infant circumcision legal after a regional court ruled earlier this year that the practice amounted to bodily harm. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority.

The new law, passed with 434 to 100 votes on Wednesday, grants parents the right to authorize the circumcision of their sons by a trained practitioner.

"The Circumcision Act finally creates legal certainty,” said the Central Council of Jews in Germany President Dieter Graumann.

"The key for us is the political message of the bill, which states: Jewish and Muslim life continues to be welcome here.”

In May 2012, Jews and Muslims living in Germany were angered when a Cologne district court ruled that the religious circumcision of young boys amounted to bodily harm. The government proposed the law following heavy criticism by Jewish and Muslim groups.

Under the new law, the procedure must be performed by a doctor once the boy reaches six months of age.

A proposal to require consent from the child for a circumsion did not pass the vote. A cross-party minority in Parliament had proposed that parents should have to wait until their son is 14 so he can give informed consent for the procedure.

Both the Jewish and Muslim communities consider male infant circumcision an ancient and essential part of their religious tradition.

hc/kms (AFP, dpa)