Preparing for circumcision
Preparing for circumcisionFlash 90

A petition calling for a ban on male circumcision in Denmark will now go to parliament after organizers said Friday it had attracted more than the 50,000 signatures required.

"We're really happy, but now the real work begins. It's an important but small step," said Lena Nyhus of the Intact Denmark group told Danish news agency Ritzau.

The petition however faces little chance of success because it has not attracted support from any of the main political parties.

In Denmark, citizens can require parliament to debate an issue by gathering a minimum of 50,000 signatures.

The petition, which cites the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, calls for a six-year prison sentence for those carrying out circumcisions on boys under the age of 18, unless there is a medical reason.

The same penalty has existed since 2003 for the internationally condemned practice of excision, or female genital mutilation.

"Society has a special obligation to protect the fundamental rights of the child until they've reached an age and maturity where they can take on this responsibility themselves," the petition reads.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are carried out in Denmark per year, according to health officials.

The Jewish community has protested against the petition, saying the ritual has been practiced in Denmark without any problems for more than 400 years.