Council of Europe overturns ritual circumcision ban

The Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, France. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( In a victory for Jews observing the tradition of brit milah, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has overturned a 2013 resolution calling the ritual circumcision of men a "violation of the physical integrity of children according to human rights standards." 

In the wake of significant lobbying on the part of leaders from European Jewish communities during the past two years, the council’s new ruling now states that the circumcision ritual does comply with the European Convention of Human Rights. Members of the Israeli Knesset also helped convince European parliament members to support the amendment, which was approved last week.

PACE’s initial decision lumped male circumcision and female genital mutilation into the same category, which outraged Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe.

"From the very first moment, it was clear that the Council of Europe's recommendation was outrageous and irrational and that it blatantly violated many people's freedom of religion," Member of Knesset Yuli Edelstein said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. "I hope that we will not be required to fight for elementary rights like circumcision in the future."

"Religion has always been a key issue in Europe. PACE's adoption of the conclusions serves as an important step in our struggle to ensure that religious rituals can be conducted freely and publicly,” said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis.
"The adoption of the report essentially cancels the Council of Europe's resolution against circumcision, and will encourage all European countries, governments, and parliament members to insist on Jewish rights in the continent. We will continue to work with the European Union institutions in the future discourse on the issue, and expect the decision to convey the appropriate message to all EU countries,” he said.

Posted on October 7, 2015 .