The illegal database will be deleted, but a legal one may replace it. Photo: Colourbox
A registry detailing male circumcisions has been deleted after the health minister stepped in to put a stop to the illegal record keeping.
The State Serum Institute (SSI) kept a database of circumcisions for 19 months despite never receiving authority to do so from the Danish Data Protection Agency (Datatilsynet).
On Sunday, Health Minister Sophie Løhde announced that she had ordered an end to the practice and on Wednesday an SSI spokesman told Berlingske that the illegally-obtained database would be deleted “within the next couple days”.
Several politicians have criticised SSI for keeping the database despite Datatilsynet ruling that it had no authority to do so.
“In my world, one should never begin to register something without having first received permission. Therefore one must now take the consequence of the illegal registry and delete the database,” Conservative spokeswoman Mette Abildgaard told TV2 News, adding that a database over circumcision could be resumed with the proper permission.
The Danish People’s Party echoed the call for the database’s deletion, with spokeswoman Liselott Blixt telling TV2 News that someone “was really asleep at the wheel”.
“I simply cannot understand that the State Serum Institute doesn’t have better control over things,” Blixt said.
Blixt said that her party supports a legal database over circumcised boys.
Datatilsynet rejected the database on the grounds that it would reveal the religion of circumcised boys, as circumcisions in Denmark are largely only performed on Jewish and Muslim children. Both Jewish and Muslim groups have condemned the illegal registry.
The debate about circumcision is a frequent topic in Denmark. Following extensive media coverage in both 2012 and 2013, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) carried out a study on the potential health risks and benefits of circumcision. In June 2013, the agency determined that there was neither enough risk to justify outlawing circumcision nor enough documentation of its benefits to generally recommend the practice.
A poll from October showed that 74 percent of Danes are in favour of banning male circumcision and members of the ruling Venstre party have expressed support for banning the practice.
The previous Social Democrat-led government called for an investigation into circumcisions after it was revealed that there are no medical professionals present in many of the religious circumcisions performed in Denmark
According to Sundhedsstyrelsen, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark each, primarily on Jewish and Muslim boys.
The World Health Organization estimates that roughly one third of the global male population is circumcised, with almost 70 percent of those being Muslim. Circumcision remains a common practice in the United States, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2013 that the number of circumcisions performed on male newborns dropped from 64.5 percent to 58 percent over the course of the past three decades.
Like Denmark, neighbouring Sweden and Norway have also been discussing a ban on male circumcision. Following intense debate in 2012, Germany passed a law allowing religious circumcision.
Female circumcision is illegal in Denmark.