Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Unkindest Cut? Gay Men vs. Male Circumcision

via edge, by Peter Cassels

In what will be a first for the nation, San Francisco voters will consider a controversial ballot measure to ban circumcision for males under the age of 18 in the November election.

Each violation would result in a $1,000 fine and there’s no religious exemption.

If voters approve, a ban would certainly face court challenges from the city’s large and politically powerful (Diane Feinstein, e.g.) Jewish community, not to mention Muslims. Both religions trace the practice to the biblical injunction God gave Abraham in the Book of Genesis and have been practicing infant circumcision as a religious rite for thousands of years.

Groups opposing the ban are already lining up against it, but supporters passionately assert that circumcision is medically unnecessary and nothing more than genital mutilation.

One only has to visit websites whenever the subject is discussed to see how many readers ardently condemn the practice. They have been doing so for years.

For most, the controversy has been under the radar until widespread news coverage of the San Francisco ballot measure. Santa Monica voters may consider a similar referendum in November 2012.

Because California is often the trendsetter in American culture, there may be similar moves to ban circumcision elsewhere, unless such efforts are quashed by court rulings that it’s unconstitutional.

"Intactivists," as those opposing circumcision call themselves, offer a litany of reasons why it’s wrong.

They are men and women, gay and straight, who have formed organizations with members in all 50 states and some foreign countries. For several years, intactivist contingents have marched in gay pride parades in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Vancouver, Canada.

Intactivists say circumcision traumatizes infants, sometimes results in their deaths, suppresses feelings in the penis and interferes with sexual pleasure and performance. They also point out that the vast majority (perhaps 85 percent) of males in other countries are uncut.

They dismiss out of hand contentions by the medical community that circumcision helps prevent STDs, as well as HIV.

Medical experts beg to differ, however.

Read the rest.

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