German Circumcision Act

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In Germany, the so-called "Circumcision Act" usually means the new additional paragraph 1631d BGB which was adopted on December 12, 2012 by the German Bundestag. It legalizes the medically not indicated circumcision of underage boys for the time being under certain conditions.

Before adoption and continuing thereafter, intactivists fight against this "Circumcision Act" because from many legal experts' view, it violates the Grundgesetz (German Constitution) and other legal norms.

The Text of the Circumcision Act

The law was placed in the Civil Code in Book 4 (family law), in section 2 (relationship) and there placed in title 5 (custody).

§ 1631d BGB

Circumcision of the Male Child

(1) Personal Care also includes the right to consent to the medically not intended circumcision of the male child who lacks competence and understanding, if it is to be performed according to proper medical standards. This does not apply when the circumcision, also considering the motivation, endangers the child's well-being.
(2) During the first 6 months of life of the child, persons appointed by a religious group may perform circumcisions according to paragraph 1, if they are specially trained and, without being a medical doctor, are similarly competent to perform circumcision.


The draft of the Federal Ministery of Justice had been almost identically adopted as a bill from the Cabinet. Exactly one statement was changed in the legal text:

The draft stated in paragraph 1, clause 1

"[...] if it is performed according to proper medical standards."

The passed bill, however, is

"[...]  if it is to be performed according to proper medical standards."

This reformulation removes the legal issue from the law to prove that operations are actually done in accordance with the rules of medical science. Now the law accepts if the doctor or clipper has stated their intention to want to perform circumcision according to the rules of medical science.

Law withdraws on its own

By the phrase "if it is to be performed according to proper medical standards. This does not apply when the circumcision, also considering the motivation, endangers the child's well-being", the law withdraws on its own. The rules of medical art state that without a medical indication no healthy body part may be irreversibly removed, especially without effective pain suppression. Both apply to newborns and babies up to the sixth month (paragraph 2 - Mohel clause) without further ado. Moreover, the child's welfare is endangered in any case, as the loss of the foreskin is irreversible and thus in all cases harms the child.

Legal voices

  • Andreas Manok, The medically not indicated circumcision of the male child – Legal situation before and after the adoption of § 1631d Civil Code with special consideration of fundamental rights, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2015 (Writings on health law [SGR], vol. 34). 217 pages. ISBN 978-3-428-14584-3. 69,90 €.[1]

“ The author examines the question of the legality of unindexed medical circumcisions of male minors at the behest of their parents. After a cultural historical overview and consideration of medical aspects he fully verifies whether the amendmend § 1631d to the Civil Code by the federal legislature in reaction to the so-called circumcision judgment of Cologne is constitutional. He concludes that § 1631d BGB is unconstitutional in several aspects. Firstly, the fundamental right of minors to physical integrity predominates the parental edicuation right and their fundamental right to freedom of religion, as far as scope and the irreversibility of the intervention are concerned. On the other hand, it is an unjustified discrimination against male minors because of their gender, because the operation on them should be allowed while even mild forms of female circumcision are under threat of punishment by § 226a Criminal Code. ”
Dr. Georg Neureither ( [2]

  • Matthias Franz (publisher), The circumcision of boys - A sad legacy, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014. 448 pages with 11 figures, brochured. ISBN 978-3-525-40455-3. 29,99 €.[3]

“ The debate about the ritual, not medically justified genital cutting of small boys who are not able to consent, now also takes place in Germany, after the judgment of the Cologne Regional Court in May 2012. It moves in the tension of the fundamental rights to freedom of religion on the one hand and to physical integrity on the other. The intensity of the debate suggests profound anxieties and conflicts. It is about the question of whether it is in a secular democracy still appropriate to safeguard the group and religious identity of adults by inflicting little boys pain and fear, to expose them to significant health risks and irreversible injury of the genital area. Painful physical, sexual and psychological long-term consequences of circumcision are possible and documented. In this book, affected ones, doctors, lawyers, psychoanalysts, politicians and other professionals express criticism of the boy circumcision and are committed to the thought of protection of children. they promote a debate on scientific and legal basis. ”
Promotion text (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) [4]