Glen Callender walked in the Saskatoon Pride Parade to raise awareness for circumcision rights. Lasia Kretzel/News Talk Radio
As hundreds of people marched through downtown in the pouring rain for the pride parade on Saturday, one man was on a mission to bring attention to a very sensitive issue.
Among all the glitter and rainbows, Glenn Callender was out to show his foreskin pride in the hopes of bringing awareness to the damage caused by circumcision and the skewed right to genital integrity.
As the founder of the Canadian Foreskin awareness project, Callender said their main goal is to ban circumcision in children until they’re 18 years old.
“If you’re an adult, you have a right to modify your body as you see fit but nobody has the right to deprive you the right of your own body parts based on their beliefs, aesthetic preferences or any reason,” Callender said.
Callender said there’s an unequal application of a person’s right to their own body because people view male circumcision differently than female circumcision.
Under Canadian law, girls under 18 cannot have their genitals tampered with, even for religious reasons.
“We are not accustomed to female circumcision because it’s not in the bible. It’s easy for us to look at that and say that’s wrong but ‘oh taking a knife to a boy’s penis? That’s just good parenting,’” Callender said. “If a girl has that right then so do boys and intersex children.”
In South Africa it is illegal to circumcise a boy under the age of 16 without religious or medical reasons.
Though considered normal procedure in most of North America, circumcision has become a hot button issue in Europe with states such as Finland and Denmark considering legislation to limit or ban circumcision of minors.
Callender predicts the world will see the first state to ban circumcision in minors within a year or two.
Though his group’s message mirrors pride week’s of sexual freedom, self-determination and human rights, Callender said his group receives mixed reactions at pride events.
“Most of the time when you see a pride parade you’ll agree with most of the messages because the homophobes don’t come. So foreskin pride is in the unusual position of actually confronting the sexual prejudice of queer people,” he said, adding he’s received everything from thankful handshakes to booing. “It’s very difficult for a man to admit that there’s any short coming in his penis.”
For now, Callender is working to generate awareness by attending as many pride events as he can. He’ll be in Toronto next week for World Pride, then to pride weeks in Victoria B.C., Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Atlanta.
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