Sweden’s Centre Party voted in favour of banning circumcision (omskärelse) of boys in the absence of a medical reason, during the party’s annual meeting in Karlstad at the weekend.
The main purpose of the meeting was to vote on the party’s official stance in several social issues, including whether to remove restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men (this proposal was rejected) and whether to introduce legal recognition of a third gender (this proposal was accepted).
The decision on circumcision, taken by party commissioners, went against the official party line, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf has said she “regrets” the outcome.
The Centre Party is not currently in government, but is part of a four-party deal, along with the Liberal Party, which allows the centre-left Social Democrats and Green Party to govern.
espite being unanimously rejected by the party board (partistyrelse) which is made up of Lööf and 18 other high-ranking Centre Party politicians, the rejection was overturned by party commissioners (ombud) who voted in favour of the ban by 314 to 166 votes.
However, the final decision was that the party should work to ban all non-medical circumcisions of boys, rather than a total ban on circumcision which some party members had advocated for.
Following the meeting, party vice chairman Anders W Jonsson told press: “This was not a decision that the party leadership wanted.” He said that those who called for a ban on circumcision were focused on child rights, and that the debate had not been related to religion.
“This isn’t something we plan to write a motion on,” said Lööf on Sunday.
The next step, according to her, is for the party board to analyze the decision made at the meeting and work out the best way for the party to “work towards” such a ban, in line with the decision.
Even if the party did end up submitting a motion to ban circumcision, it’s unlikely it would get far. In the lead-up to 2018’s election, both the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) and the Left Party told Sweden’s Judisk Krönika they were in favour of an 18-year age limit on the procedure. No other party said it would support such a policy or any other kind of ban or restriction, although the Green Party described male circumcision as “problematic”.