ICELANDIC MPs are considering a law that would ban the circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons, making it the first European country to do so.

Some religious leaders say the bill is an attack on religious freedom.

Under the proposed law, the circumcision of boys – removing the foreskin of the penis, usually when the child is a newborn – would be viewed as equal to female genital mutilation and punishable by up to six years in prison.

“This is fundamentally about not causing unnecessary harm to a child,” said Silja Dogg Gunnarsdottir, of the centrist Progressive Party, who introduced the bill this month.

The proposed law calls circumcision a violation of human rights “since boys are not able to give an informed consent of an irreversible physical intervention”.

Circumcision is not common in Iceland, a nation of 340,000 people that is overwhelmingly Lutheran or atheist, with an estimated 100 to 200 Jews and about 1,100 practising Muslims.

The bill has eight co-sponsors but is considered unlikely to get a majority in the 63-seat parliament.

It does not have the formal backing of any government ministers but has drawn the support of 422 Icelandic doctors who favour outlawing it.