While the Danish government despite strong popular and professional support dropped its plans to ban the ritual circumcision of boys, mostly due to opposition from the Jewish community, the debate has flared up anew, this time following the publication of guidelines for non-medical circumcision.
According to the new guidelines, the procedure may be completed using only local anaesthetics, which triggered the outrage of the medical community.
"This is deeply problematic. Our main concern is that local anaesthetics are insufficient when it comes to ensuring that the child is pain-free", Joachim Hoffmann-Petersen, the head of Denmark's anesthesiologist association, told Danish Radio.
"Children have the right to experience painless operations and, to ensure that, you must equate ritual circumcision with medical circumcision", he urged. The only way of securing this goal is to mandate ritual circumcision take place at hospitals and under general anaesthesia, he argued.
This sentiment was echoed by Lars Lund, the head of the National Urological Association. He also underscored that performing the procedure in hospitals also reduces the chances of complications.
"We can afford to have infertility treatment and sterilisations in the public health system. So we should be able to do this as well", Lund told Danish Radio.
At present, ritual circumcision is the only operation involving male genitalia that doesn't occur in public hospitals. For children under 15 years of age, they always occur under general anaesthesia to ensure the child is motionless and thus reduce the chance of mistakes.
Earlier this year, a broad spectrum of Danish parties, backed by numerous medical professionals, advocated a blanket ban on ritual circumcision for boys, citing the circumcision of girls as an example, which has been banned since the early 2000s, with zero tolerance for it. It is also punishable for Danish citizens travel abroad to have their girls circumcised, even if it is performed in a country where it is legal.
However, the looming ban triggered the outrage of Denmark's Jewish community, which saw it as an encroachment upon their culture and way of life and "the biggest crisis since World War II". The Danish prime minister, Social Democrat Mette Frederiksen, later spoke out against the bill, assuring that Jews "must continue to be part of Denmark". Ultimately, the bill was scrapped despite being supported by 86 percent of Danes.
Ritual circumcision of boys, practised by Muslims, Jews, and even some Christian branches, has triggered debates in other countries. In 2018, a bill to ban non-medical circumcision of minors was introduced in Iceland, but was scrapped, too, amid an international outcry and accusations of anti-Semitism.