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Flag of Denmark

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a constitutional monarchy. The parliament is called the Folketing. The parliament is a unicameral body of 179 members.[1]

Nordic view of non-therapeutic circumcision of boys.

Denmark is a Nordic nation in Northern Europe. Like other Nordic nations, the people abhor child non-therapeutic circumcision.

Denmark has taken the leading role in challenging the legitimacy of circumcision. In 2003, the country’s Children’s Ombudsman classified circumcision as a violation of children’s rights. In 2008, the National Children’s Council proposed a ban on circumcising all children under the age of fifteen, which would have made the Jewish brit mila a crime.[2]

In 2013, children's ombudsmen from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, along with the Chair of the Danish Children's Council and the children's spokesperson for Greenland, passed a resolution that emphasized the decision to be circumcised should belong to the individual, who should be able to give informed consent.[3]

The Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists (2013) supports the position of the Nordic Association of Ombudsmen who reason that circumcision violates the individual's human rights by denying the male child his ability to make the decision for himself.[4]

The medical doctors at Sørland Hospital in Kristiansand, Southern Norway have all refused to perform circumcisions on boys, citing reasons of conscience.[5]

One report indicates that six Danish political parties favor a ban on non-therapeutic child circumcision.[6]

Human rights

Council of Europe

Denmark became a founder member of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1949.[7] As a member of the Council of Europe, Denmark is subject to the European Convention on Human Rights[8] and is pledged to advance the enumerated rights in its territory. It may be sued in the European Court of Human Rights for violations of its duty.

The Right to Security of Person is provided by Article Five of the ECHR.

Resolution no. 1952 (2013) 'Children's right to physical integrity'[9] of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe, which includes the issue of physical integrity of intersex children for the first time, was adopted on October 1, 2013 following an initiative of the German SPD politician Marlene Rupprecht.[10]

The resolution includes other topics such as the female genital mutilation, the male circumcision for religious reasons, and the submission or coercion of a child to piercings, tattoos or cosmetic surgery.

The resolution calls on all member States to "examine the prevalence of different categories of non-medically justified operations and interventions impacting on the physical integrity of children in their respective countries, as well as the specific practices related to them, and to carefully consider them in light of the best interests of the child in order to define specific lines of action for each of them; initiate focused awareness-raising measures for each of these categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, to be carried out in the specific contexts where information may best be conveyed to families, such as the medical sector (hospitals and individual practitioners), schools, religious communities or service providers; [...]."

This first resolution of its kind by a European institution is not legally binding, but an important signal for further debate and action. It shifts the approach of the point of view of the topic from the current medical domain towards a human rights approach and identifies the right to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination. It calls the for the end of non-therapeutic cosmetic medical and surgical interventions.


Denmark is a state-party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1967).

Article two

Article 2(1) of that covenant provides:

1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its Jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Some rights recognized by the Covenant relevant to the non-therapeutic circumcision of male children are:

Article seven

Degrading treatment

Article nine

Security of person

Article twenty-four

Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

Denmark has covenanted to provide protection of these rights.[11]

Denmark has not complied with its pledge with regard to protection of the rights of boys which are violated by non-therapeutic child circumcision.


Denmark is a state-party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).[10]

Article two

Article two provides in part:

1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.[12]

This means that all children, male and female, and regardless of parental religious views, shall enjoy the same human rights.

Article twelve

Article twelve provides:

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.[12]

This means, with application to non-therapeutic circumcision, that the child, who is capable of expressing an opinion, shall have his views considered.

Article fourteen

Article fourteen provides:

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.[12]

This means that a child may express his or her religious views, even though those views may differ from those of his or her parents. This includes views related to male or female circumcision.

Article nineteen

Article nineteen provides:

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.[12]

Non-therapeutic male circumcision of male children have both been shown to cause great physical harm in the loss of the foreskin and its many protective, immunological, sexual, and sensory physiological functions. We now know that male circumcision causes sexual, and mental harm to its victims. Furthermore, the sexual and mental harm of non-therapeutic male circumcision is now well documented.

States, which are parties to this Convention, have a duty to protect children from such harm.

Article twenty-four

Article twenty-four has several paragraphs. Paragraph three is of special importance to male non-therapeutic circumcision which is a traditional practice that dates back to before the advent of recorded history.

Paragraph three provides:

3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.[12]

Male circumcision always results in the permanent and irreversible loss of the foreskin, a structure with protective, immunological, sexual, and sensory functions. The loss of the protective and immunological functions are harmful to physical health. The loss of the sensory and sexual functions are harmful to [sexual] and mental health. We have long known that non-therapeutic circumcision of children sometimes results in death. Douglas Gairdner (1949) reported circumcision caused nineteen deaths in England and Wales in 1946.[13] Bollinger (2010) estimated 117 deaths per year in the United States.[14]

Denmark has not fulfilled its several promises to protect the human rights of boys.

Medical science

Denmark has produced important medical studies regarding the foreskin.

Jakob Øster, a Danish physician in Randers, Denmark who conducted school examinations, reported his findings on the examination of school-boys in Denmark, where circumcision is rare. Øster (1968) found that the incidence of fusion of the foreskin with the glans penis steadily declines with increasing age and foreskin retractability increases with age.[15]

Morten Frisch et al. (2011) produced an important study elucidating the relationship between circumcision and sexual function difficulties.[16]

Morten & Simonsen (2015) of the Danish National Serum Institute associate neonatal non-therapeutic circumcision with autism spectrum disorder.[17]

Morten Frisch and Jacob Simonsen (2021) carried out a large scale population study regarding the alleged value of male circumcision in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infection in men. They found that circumcised men have a higher rate of STI and HIV infection overall than intact men.[18]

Intactivist organizations

Recent developments

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) issued guidelines for ritual infant [non-therapeutic] male circumcision (RIMC} in 2005.[10]

State hospitals in Denmark have not performed circumcisions since 2009, except in rare cases of medical need.[10]

Only medical doctors may perform surgical operations, however an assistant may perform the operation if a medical doctors is standing by.[10]

The Danish Association of General Medicine (2014) declared:

The Health Agency has sent 'Guidance on Circumcision of Boys' in consultation. The DSAM's [Board] of Directors has discussed the draft consultation and agree that circumcision may only be performed when there is a medical indication for it. If circumcision is performed without a medical indication, it is a case of mutilation.[19]

The Danish Medical Association (Lægeforeningen) (2016) has recommended that no boys under the age of 18 be circumcised in Denmark. Lise Møller, the chairwoman of the doctors’ association’s ethics board, said:

To be circumcised should be an informed, personal choice. It is most consistent with the individual’s right to self-determination that parents not be allowed to make this decision but that it is left up to the individual when he has come of age.[20]

According to a poll taken in 2016, eighty-seven percent of Danes favor a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of children.[21]

Aktor (2016) reported that Jewish parents who want a son to have a ritual circumcision may go the the chief rabbi, who will act as a mohel and perform the circumcision under the supervision of a medical doctor, while Muslim parents may choose to have the operation performed at a private clinic. Aktor believes that Denmark eventually will ban non-therapeutic child circumcision.[10]

The Danish Health Ministry (2016) announced that, beginning in 2017, all circumcisions, regardless of where they take place, will need to be reported to Denmark’s national patient registry (Landspatientregistret).[20]

The percentage of males circumcised in Denmark (prevalence) is reported to be 5.3%.[22]

Citizens proposal

Intact Denmark circulated a citizens proposal, which received the necessary 50,000 signatures to require consideration of a ban on child, was presented to the Folketing in September 2018.[23]

Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, argued that an alleged promise made to Jews in the aftermath of World War II takes precedence over Denmark's clear obligations under international law of human rights to protect the human rights of its citizens, including boys.[24]

On 21 September 2020 Morten Frisch and 41 of his colleagues (chief physicians, specialists, ward doctors and junior doctors) protested the knee-jerk reaction to religious pressure in an open letter to the Danish Patient Safety Authority.[25]

Ninety members constitute a majority of the 179 member Folketing. Thus far, a majority in favor of prohibiting non-therapeutic circumcision of boys had not existed.

David Balashinsky, a Jewish-American man and opponent of non-therapeutic child circumcision, published an open letter to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Monday, 12 October 2020 in support of the Citizen Initiative to Establish 18 as the Minimum Age for Non-therapeutic Circumcision in Denmark.[26] [27]

The United States of America, through its ambassador, is actively interfering in Danish internal affairs, to prevent the protection of the human rights of boys.[28]

DR (2021) reported a recent survey which found that 73.43 percent of Danes favour prohibiting non-therapeutic circumcision of boys who have not reached their eighteenth birthday.[29]

The Folketing considered the citizens proposal initiated by Intact Denmark that would have prohibited non-therapeutic circumcision of boys who had not reached their eighteenth birthday. The proposal failed with a vote of 34 in favor and 64 against. The total number of members who voted was 98. Eighty-one members (45 percent) failed to vote.


See also

External links


  1. REFdocument Constitution of Denmark. (5 June 1953). Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  2. REFjournal Hoare L. The Scandal of Scandinavia. The Tower Magazine. April 2013; Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  3. REFweb Nordic Association of Children's Ombudsmen (30 September 2013). Let the boys decide for themselves. Retrieved 5 October 2020.[] Tuesday, 1 October 2013
  4. REFdocument Statement on Non-Therapeutic Circumcision of Boys PDF, Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists. (3 October 2013). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  5. REFnews Faull, Solrun F. (30 August 2016)."Hospital doctors in Southern Norway will not circumcise boys".
  6. REFnews W, Christian (11 September 2020)."Denmark refuses to ban the ritual circumcision of boys",, Copenhagen Post. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  7. REFweb Denmark // 47 States, one Europe. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  8. REFdocument European Convention on Human Rights PDF, Council of Europe. (1950). Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  9. REFdocument Children's right to physical integrity PDF, Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  10. a b c d e f REFbook Aktor M (2016): 24, in: Whose Rights? The Danish Debate on Ritual Infant Male Circumcision as a Human Rights Issue. Work: Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion: In Celebration of Tim Jensen's 65th Birthday. Peter Antes, Armin W. Geertz, Mikael Rothstein (ed.). Sheffield: Equinox Publishing. Pp. 311-24. ISBN 9781781791394. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  11. REFdocument International Covenant on Civil and Political Right PDF, United Nations. (1967). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  12. a b c d e REFdocument Convention on the Rights of the Child PDF, United Nations. (20 November 1989). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  13. REFjournal Gairdner DMT. The fate of the foreskin: a study of circumcision. British Medical Journal. 1949; 2(4642): 1433-7. PMID. PMC. DOI. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  14. REFjournal Bollinger D, Boy's Health Advisory. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 26 April 2010; 4(1): 78-90. DOI. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  15. REFjournal Øster J. Further Date of the Foreskin: Incidence of Preputial Adhesions, Phimosis, and Smegma among Danish Schoolboys. Arch Dis Child. 1968; 43(228): 200-3. PMID. PMC. DOI. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  16. REFjournal Frisch M, Lindholm M, Grønbæk M. Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark. Int J Epidemiol. 14 June 2011; 40(5): 1367-81. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  17. REFjournal Frisch M, Simonsen J. Ritual circumcision and risk of autism spectrum disorder in 0- to 9-year-old boys: national cohort study in Denmark. J R Soc Med. July 2015; 108(7): 266-79. PMID. PMC. DOI. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  18. REFjournal Frisch M, Simonsen J. Non-therapeutic male circumcision in infancy or childhood and risk of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted infections: national cohort study in Denmark. Eur J Epidemiol. 26 September 2021; 37: 251–9. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  19. REFweb Havskov, Jens (20 December 2014). Doctors are now speaking out: circumcision is a violation and should be banned. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  20. a b REFnews (5 December 2016)."Danish Doctors Come Out Against Circumcision",, The Local. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  21. REFnews Da Vine, Lily. "Comparing Circumcision in Denmark to the US: Why the Danes are Ahead",, Homestead Guru. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  22. REFweb (1 April 2024). Global Circumcision Statistics and Estimates, Retrieved 1 April 2024.
  23. REFnews Gadd, Stephen (1 June 2018)."Danish MPs to vote on under-18s circumcision ban",, CPH Online. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  24. REFnews W, Christian (11 September 2020)."Denmark refuses to ban the ritual circumcision of boys",, CPH Post Online. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  25. REFdocument Frisch, Morten / Arash Afshar / Kasper Ankjærgaard / Lisbeth Asserhøj / Niels Bentzon / Eva Christensen / Lise Darling: Letter of Complaint. (21 September 2020). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
    Quote: When Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen claims to want to fight anti-Semitism in Denmark, it does not benefit the case that she and her government almost equate circumcision resistance and anti-Semitism, let a painful and destructive ritual like boy circumcision continue at the request of religious Danish Jews and at the same time let consideration to 'Jewish law' make it impossible to ensure proper surgery and optimal pain relief for the - predominantly Muslim - boys, who in future come under the knife, as long as the ritual is legal in Denmark.
  26. REFweb Balashinsky, David (12 October 2020). An Open Letter to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Support of the Citizen Initiative to Establish 18 as the Minimum Age for Non-therapeutic Circumcision in Denmark. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  27. REFnews Balashinsky, David (23 February 2021)."Kære Mette Frederiksen: Tvungen omskæring af mindreårige er i strid med menneskerettighederne og jødedommen – åbent brev fra USA", POV International. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  28. REFnews Hein, Niels (19 February 2021)."USA er bekymret over danske planer om at forbyde omskæring", Kristeligt Dagblad. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  29. REFnews Henriksen, Morten / Anders Bykov Svensen / Rasmus Bøttcher Christensen / Søren Larsen (20 April 2021)."Kun hver tiende dansker er enig med Frederiksen og Ellemann i, at omskæring af drenge fortsat skal være tilladt",, DR. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
    Quote: The country's two largest parties are so out of touch with voters when it comes to circumcising male children.