Iceland considers banning non-medical circumcision

Iceland considers banning non-medical circumcision
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A bill in Iceland's Parliament proposes to ban circumcision for non-medical reasons, causing outcry among religious groups.

The bill, put forward by the Progressive Party, would impose a six-year prison sentence on anyone who removes part or all of a child's sexual organs.

The party argues the surgical procedure violates the rights of children, according to the BBC.

Progressive Party MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir said despite condemnation from religious groups, children's rights come first.

"We are talking about children's rights, not about freedom of belief.

"Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to believe," she said.

In 2005, Iceland's Parliament passed a law to ban female genital mutilation.

Iceland's Jewish and Muslim communities have argued it is an attack on religious freedom. 

If the bill passes, Iceland would be the first country in Europe to ban circumcision.

Circumcision is performed on an estimated 10 percent of newborns in New Zealand, according to healthcare provider Southern Cross, and is usually done for social, cultural or religious reasons.

The surgical procedure is usually performed under a general anaesthetic after about six months of age, it is generally a safe procedure but carries risks of minor complications and some rare but serious complications.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has published its position on circumcision on its website.

"The RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand. However it is reasonable for parents to weigh the benefits and risks of circumcision and to make the decision whether or not to circumcise their sons," it says.