LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown announced on Sunday that he signed a bill preventing local authorities from banning the practice of male circumcision.
The bill, which takes effect immediately, comes in the wake of an effort by a San Francisco group opposed to male circumcision to enforce a city-wide ban of the practice in a November ballot measure.
That effort was struck down in late July by a California judge who said it would infringe on religious freedom. The measure was removed from the November ballot.
The measure, which garnered 12,000 signatures of support, would have made it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years old in San Francisco, regardless of the parents’ religious beliefs.
A dozen petitioners sued to block the initiative at the time. A similar effort in Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles, was withdrawn.
Circumcision is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys and also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.
The move to outlaw circumcision in San Francisco raised alarm bells for Jewish groups.
In June, the Anti-Defamation League condemned a comic book created by supporters of the anti-circumcision movement that it said contained grotesque anti-Semitic imagery. The comic featured a character named “Monster Mohel” as an evil villain.
A mohel is a Jewish individual specifically trained to perform the ritual circumcision of infant boys.
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst