Secretary General of the Council of Europe: “no” to ban on religious male circumcision

Further to our post on 11 November, on the same day the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, made a speech at the dinner of the Plenary Convention of the Conference of European Rabbis in Berlin during which he referred to the controversy over non-therapeutic male circumcision. Said Jagland:

“In no way does the Council of Europe want to ban the practice of male circumcision. Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not. That is my position. That is the position of the Council of Europe.

As I recently assured President Shimon Peres, the Council of Europe’s commitment to tolerance and freedom of religion is resolute. This is not only a moral imperative, it is a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe that the freedom of religion, thought, and conscience, together with the freedom of expression, laid down in Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, are the cornerstones of our freedom. Together they form Europe’s moral architecture allowing for mutual respect and social justice to stand strong in our society.”.

Clearly a majority of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe would support a ban. But the suspicion must be that the Secretary General would not have made his statement in such categorical terms without consulting the current Chair of the Council of Ministers, so that looks like a definitive “no”.