Criminalisation of circumcision: putting the fundamental rights’ system at risk!
“Criminalising male circumcision might endanger the whole system of fundamental rights, as well as the Rule of Law”, stated COMECE General Secretary fr. Olivier Poquillon op during the conference on "Religious rituals and fundamental rights" held last Tuesday 10th of April 2018 at the European Parliament.
The event is a reaction to the legislative initiatives proposed in Iceland and Denmark in order to criminalise circumcision of male infants and boys, allegedly to protect their health.
COMECE, which co-organised the conference at the European Parliament together with other partners, considers such proposals as an instrumentalisation of legal tools to prosecute and target specific groups because of their religious belonging.
The Church is active in standing up against initiatives attempting to divide people and to expel religion from the public square. In February, Cardinal Marx expressed his solidarity to representatives of Jewish and Muslim communities, explaining that “protecting the health of children is a legitimate goal of every society, but in this case this concern is instrumentalised, without any scientific basis, to stigmatise certain religious communities”.
Furthermore, Mgr. Czeslaw Kozon, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nordic countries, addressed the authorities of Iceland in this sense. EU Bishops' Conferences were also invited to work closely with Jewish communities at the national level.
During the conference, Jewish, Christian and Muslims speakers, together with institutional representatives of the European Parliament and of the Regional Office for Europe of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), focused on the central role religions can play in bringing together and shaping a modern, pluralist and democratic European society.
The event was set in the context of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. COMECE General Secretary Fr. Poquillon op recalled that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Undermining the fundamental rights to freedom of religion, as well as the freedom of parents to educate their children in accordance with their religious convictions, weaken the roots of the whole fundamental rights' system.