Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden iStock

Arthur Stark, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, condemned a Swedish political party which voted to change its official stance in favor of banning circumcision.

“We are appalled to learn that a political party in Sweden has proposed a ban on non-medical circumcision of infant boys. This proposal, put forward by members of Sweden’s minority Center Party, would be an outrageous violation of religious freedom and civil rights,” said Stark and Hoenlein in a statement.

“The Conference stands with Sweden’s Jewish Central Council in condemning this blatantly discriminatory legislation. We call on the government to reject this initiative quickly and absolutely,” they added.

The Swedish Center Party voted on Saturday 314-166 at its annual meeting to work to fight the non-medical circumcision of boys. Party chief Annie Loof was among the party leaders who criticized the vote.

The Center Party received approximately 8 percent of the votes in last year’s national election, earning 31 seats in the 349-seat parliament. It broke with its center-right alliance earlier this year and now backs the left-wing ruling coalition, though it’s not officially part of the bloc.

The vote drew fierce debate in the country between advocates, who say circumcision infringes on children’s rights, and critics, who say a ban would threaten the country’s Jewish and Muslim populations.

Last year, a leader of the Sweden Democrats party submitted a draft motion calling for a ban on non-medical circumcision of boys, which the text claimed is “backward” child abuse.

There have been other initiatives to ban circumcision in Europe in recent years.

Last year, a petition calling for a ban on male circumcision in Denmark went to parliament after organizers amassed more than the 50,000 signatures required to bring it to a vote.

However, the Danish Health Minister later clarified that her government would work to combat a bill proposing to ban circumcision in the country.

In early 2018, Iceland dropped a controversial bill which would have banned circumcisions for minors and would make those performing circumcisions on children – as well as parents who arranged circumcisions for their children – liable for jail time.