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Religious circumcision, invasive rites, neutrality and equality: bearing the burdens and consequences of belief
  1. Matthew Thomas Johnson
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew Johnson, Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK and 3 Symphony Court, 111 Durham Road, Gateshead NE8 4BG, UK; matthew.johnson{at}


The decision of the German regional court in Cologne on 26 June 2012 to prohibit the circumcision of minors is important insofar as it recognises the qualitative similarities between the practice and other prohibited invasive rites, such as female genital cutting. However, recognition of similarity poses serious questions with regard to liberal public policy, specifically with regard to the exceptionalist treatment demanded by certain circumcising groups. In this paper, I seek to advance egalitarian means of dealing with invasive rites which take seriously cultural diversity, minimise harm and place responsibility for the burdens and consequences of beliefs upon those who promote practices.

  • Circumcision
  • Cultural Pluralism
  • Political Philosophy
  • Coercion
  • Law

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