German Criminal Circumcision Decision

On June 26 the Landgericht Köln (Cologne Regional Court) ruled that a medically unnecessary circumcision violated a 4 year old boy’s “best interests.” The circumcision was competently performed and there was parental consent. The circumcision was performed because of the parents’ religious beliefs. The case is a criminal prosecution of the performing physician.


In the opinion the court stated:


Nor was the defendant’s act justified by consent. There was no consent by the child, who was four years old at the time, and since the child was not old enough to understand the situation, there was no question of such consent being given. There was consent by the parents, but this was not capable of justifying the commission of the elements of bodily harm.


The opinion is available in German. There is also a partial and unofficial English translation. Additional background information as well as some coverage of related developments in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden is available from Library of Congress’ blog Global Legal Monitor.

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