NSS defend mayor ousted for questioning religious circumcision

Posted: Thu, 15th Jun 2023

NSS defend mayor ousted for questioning religious circumcision

The National Secular Society has teamed up with a men's health charity to raise concerns after a mayor was ousted for criticising religious circumcision.

In a 2008 blog, former mayor of Neyland town council Andrew Lye questioned why religious circumcision of children was necessary if God "made man in his own image".

At a meeting earlier this month, fellow councillor Brian Rothero said the remarks were "nothing short of antisemitic and anti-Muslim". The council subsequently voted to remove Lye from the mayoralty and Lye has now resigned from the council.

In a joint letter sent to Neyland town council yesterday, the NSS and 15 Square criticised the allegations against Lye as "baseless" and said they would have a chilling effect on free expression.

15 Square is a registered charity which supports men dealing with the physical and psychological problems arising from circumcision.

"In a free and open society, religious beliefs and practices must remain open to scrutiny and debate. Individuals should be afforded respect and protection, but ideas should not", the letter said.

The letter also pointed out that circumcision has been listed as a "harmful" practice by the United Nations. In 2015 a British judge described it as "more invasive" than some forms of female genital mutilation and held that it met the definition of "significant harm" under the Children Act 1989.

Three boys have bled to death in recent years post-circumcision in the UK (Celian Noumbiwe, Angelo Ofori-Mintah, and Goodluck Caubergs) and 11 were admitted in just one year to just one hospital with life-threatening haemorrhage or sepsis. An NHS whistleblower, himself a paediatric surgeon, said in 2016 circumcisions were leaving children "maimed for life".

A Freedom of Information Request to the General Medical Council last year revealed complications of circumcision recorded between 2012 and 2022 included penile deformity, infection, urinary complications and inadequate anaesthesia. Babies required blood transfusions in some cases.

A 2018 YouGov poll showed 62% of the British public would support a law against non-medical circumcision of boys.

NSS: "Andrew Lye spoke up in defence of the bodily integrity and autonomy of children"

NSS campaigns officer Dr Alejandro Sanchez said: "In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the government to ensure 'no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood'.

"Religious infant circumcision is exactly that: unnecessary, painful and risky surgery on non-consenting children to satisfy religious or cultural beliefs of their parents. Allegations of antisemitism or Islamophobia cannot be allowed to silence legitimate criticism of harmful religious practices.

"Andrew Lye has been ousted from the mayoralty because he spoke up in defence of the bodily integrity and autonomy of children. This will now have a chilling effect on anyone in politics wanting to speak out for children's fundamental rights."

Image by Thorsten Frenzel from Pixabay

End forced genital cutting

We are committed to ending all forms of forced non-therapeutic genital cutting. Join our campaign.

Tags: Free speech, Genital cutting