[Note added 23.2.16: Yesterday afternoon we were part of the largest-ever protest against non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors (male genital mutilation, ‘MGM’) in the UK, outside the leading private male genital mutilation clinic in the UK – Thornhill Clinic, Luton. This photo was taken towards the end of the protest, and a number of protesters had left by this point, but it should give you a sense of the scale of the protest. We put a lot of effort into protesting with placards on the Dunstable Road, at the entrance of Thornhill Street, and we were delighted at the support we received from passing pedestrians and drivers.
We look forward to further protests outside the Thornhill Clinic, with one key difference. We won’t be informing the clinic in advance about the timing of future protests.]
[Note added 9.3.16: Luton Today published this earlier today.]
[Note added 20.3.16: A Voice for Men is the most-visited and most influential website in the world advocating for the human rights of men and boys. A few days ago the website published a highly supportive article about the forthcoming protest.]
Regular followers of this blog will be well aware of the Thornhill Clinic, Luton, and the boast by the people running it, that it’s the largest private male circumcision clinic in the UK. Our protest outside the clinic during the afternoon of 22 March (details below) will relate specifically to the non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors (Male Genital Mutilation, MGM). Male minors cannot legally give informed consent to the procedure, and it’s illegal on other grounds, as we’ll explain.
We strongly urge parents who are thinking of having their sons circumcised – whether at the Thornhill Clinic, or elsewhere – to explore the content of the Neonatal Cutting website.
Darrel Gregory is the Executive Director of the Thornhill clinic, and my recent email exchange with him is here. Details on Mr Gregory and the four doctors working at the clinic are here. The doctors have been placed by A Voice for Men on their Known Genital Mutilators directory, and our previous two posts on the clinic are here and here.
We shall be joining Men Do Complain at the protest – as we did in two protests in the autumn – and it will be held outside the clinic between 15:00 – 18:00 on Tuesday, 22 March. The clinic’s opening hours on Tuesdays are 15:30 – 17:30, and the address is 1-3 Thornhill Road, Luton, Beds. LU4 8EY.
We wouldn’t be surprised if the people running the clinic decided not to open it that afternoon, but no matter. Both national and local media will be attending and filming the protest, as will supporters of MDC and J4MB. It hopefully doesn’t need to be said that we’re planning an entirely peaceful protest, which won’t be directed at any religious group(s).
We’re confidently expecting an even larger attendance than we saw at the very successful protest last International Men’s Day, in Parliament Square. A video (6:30) of that protest is here. We’ll be ordering more placards etc.
We urge you to attend the protest, whether or not you’ve been personally affected by MGM. We have men at these protests who are uncircumcised, and men who were circumcised, but have no problem with that. They firmly believe, however, that in future male minors should not suffer the procedure, and be allowed to make up their own minds after they’ve passed 18 years of age. MGM is, of course, only one of many areas where the human rights of men and boys are assaulted by the actions and inactions of the state. 20 such areas were outlined in our 2015 general election manifesto.
The reasons MGM remains our #1 campaigning issue don’t change over time:
1. MGM is an exercise in harming a minor’s body and is duly illegal, and has been since at least the passing of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This is not our opinion, but that of a prominent barrister, speaking at a conference in 2013.
For MGM not to be illegal, there would have to be a parliamentary override, and no such override exists. There are no exemptions in the law of England and Wales for religious or cultural considerations. I recently had a 20-minute-long discussion with Dr Simon Hochhauser, one of the Co-Chairmen of Milah UK, a Jewish organization promoting the continued mutilation of the genitals of eight-day-old baby boys. The discussion was on BBC 3 Counties Radio, and it’s here.
2. MGM is unethical, for precisely the same reasons Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is unethical. (FGM has been specifically illegal since 1985.)
3. MGM is a human rights violation, and breaches Articles of United Nations and European Union conventions. For details, click on the first link in (1) above.
4. The historical objective of MGM was to reduce the pleasure males would later derive from sex, to encourage their fidelity to their wives, as explained in an excellent article by William Collins. The relevant extract:
This is how Moses Maimonides, the Jewish intellectual and physician, expressed it as early as 1135:
“With regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible.
It has been thought that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally…How can natural things be defective so that they need to be perfected from the outside, all the more because we know how useful the foreskin is to that member? In fact this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally.
The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished.
The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened. In my opinion, this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision. Jewish men, sexually subdued and readily controlled by their wives, don’t stray into mischief. The power of his member has been diminished so that he has no strength to lie with many lewd women.”
5. MGM can lead to considerable physical and psychological harm and therefore suffering, and sometimes death – as a direct consequence of the procedure, or later suicide. Should anyone be in any doubt about the issues of physical and psychological harm, they are invited to watch a video (49:32) about Tim Hammond’s Global Survey of Circumcision Harm. Tim, an American, will be talking on the topic of circumcision harm at the second International Conference on Men’s Issues, London, July 8-10.
Gregory Boyle, an eminent Australian psychology professor, has spoken in a video about the psychological suffering he experienced as a result of the procedure.
We recommend a video of a presentation by Ryan McAllister, an American professor, titled, ‘Child Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital’.
Among our list of key posts are many about MGM, scroll down to ‘Male Genital Mutilation’.
I urge you to join us at the Thornhill Clinic protest, for which we’ve already been assured support by leading anti-MGM campaigners. We have every reason to believe it will be the largest such protest ever held in the UK. Please email me [email protected] if you’ll be able to join us. Let’s have a protest on a scale that people won’t be able to ignore. It’s time for MGM to be consigned to where it has long belonged – the dustbin of history. Thank you.