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President's Corner

Icelandic circumcision ban

Icelandic Progressive Party MP, Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir is the driving force behind a Bill put before The Alþingi (the Icelandic Parliament) that proposes a six-year prison term for anyone found guilty of “removing sexual organs in whole or in part”.

Iceland banned circumcising girls in 2015 but this Bill extends the ban to boys. Ms Gunnarsdóttir said, “Every individual, it doesn’t matter what sex or how old… should be able to give informed consent for a procedure that is unnecessary, irreversible and can be harmful. His body, his choice.”

Inevitably the Bill has religious groups in the country up-in-arms. The Muslim Association of Iceland, described the Bill as an “attack on religion”, whilst a Jewish spokesman said a ban would make “sustainable Jewish life in the country impossible”. It is no surprise that religions place their ancient traditions above the rights of boys to grow to manhood intact, and then to make their own decision to be circumcised, or not.

I wrote to Ms Gunnarsdóttir giving AAI’s full support for the Bill. A copy of the text is shown below.

March 3, 2018
Silja Dogg Gunnarsdottir
Member of Parliament
Reykjavik, Iceland

Dear Ms. Gunnarsdottir:

Atheist Alliance International would like to congratulate you on presenting a Bill to Ban Circumcision to Parliament earlier this year. We support this Bill on the principle that children have the right to form their own views and the right to express them freely. Circumcision is often done soon after birth when children are not capable of having a view on this issue or expressing it freely.

At Atheist Alliance International, we believe children are born neutral and should not be indoctrinated into religion. If a child chooses at a later date to join a religion, that decision should be respected. All too often however, children are forced into their parents’ religion with no choice until they become adults. A ban on circumcision is a first step towards stopping this indoctrination.

While the rationale for this Bill was based on eliminating medical risk of circumcision, we cannot ignore the human rights aspect of this ban. This will allow children to express their views on circumcision at a later time when they are capable of forming their own opinions. This right is also expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Article 12

  1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

Atheist Alliance International supports your initiative to present this Bill to Parliament and we wish you success in it becoming law.
Yours sincerely,

Gail Miller, President

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