US & Canada

San Francisco circumcision ban struck from ballot

Lloyd Schofield
Image caption Lloyd Schofield described the ancient Jewish and Muslim rite as "forced genital cutting"

A San Francisco judge has struck a proposed male circumcision ban from a November ballot, ruling that the city cannot regulate medical procedure and citing religious freedom protections.

The ruling was applauded by opponents of the proposed ban, who attacked it as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim.

In May, advocates of a ban gathered enough voter signatures to put the measure on the city's ballot.

They described the sacred rite for Jews and Muslims as "genital mutilation".

The measure, which qualified in May for a spot on the ballot, would have made circumcision of a minor boy punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 (£612) fine.

The US federal government already bans female circumcision.

Jewish and Muslim groups said the proposal was an assault on their ancient religious practice and likened the proposal to circumcision bans in the Soviet Union.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled that the proposed ban violated the US constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.

She said California law gives the state, not a city, authority to regulate medical procedures.

The leader of the anti-circumcision movement, Lloyd Schofield, said he was considering an appeal.

"We will not stop until all men are protected from this damaging and harmful surgery," Mr Schofield told the Associated Press.