Court Challenges Program
Application for Funding
THE GOVERNMENT of Canada through the Ministry of Justice is the only authority capable of rectifying the injustice inherent in section 268 of the Criminal Code. The minister of justice has ignored requests to address this inequality, despite having been directly informed of the discriminatory nature of the current law. Nor has the minister acknowledged requests to account for the discriminatory nature of the current law.
In a letter to Dr. Arif Bhimji dated April 6, 2000, Justice Minister Anne McLellan denies that male and female circumcision are comparable practices, even though the parallels between the two are very striking. Both operations are defended on the grounds of cleanliness, health, tradition, religion, group identity and aesthetics. Both can have devastating consequences. Both are viewed as harmless by their supporters. Furthermore, there is clear and compelling evidence that certain forms of female circumcision are less intrusive and less harmful than male circumcision. Yet the Criminal Code expressly protects females without mentioning males.
The similarities between male and female circumcision were alluded to in a letter written on November 28, 1996 by Dr. Douglas McMillan, Chair of the Fetus and Newborn Committee of the Canadian Paediatric Society. In reference to infant male circumcision, Dr. McMillan wrote: "Your comparison with removal of other tissue is a valid one."
Thus non-therapeutic circumcision of boys is gender-specific discrimination. The government has protected females and summarily denied that same protection to males, even though protecting males would not in any way diminish the protection extended to females.
The initial application against the Government of Canada will be filed in the Ontario General Division.
There are no existing cases regarding this subject before the courts. There are no previous cases or court decisions regarding the proposed action.