Germany's cabinet has approved adraft law protecting the right to circumcise infant boys, which it says will end months of legal uncertainty after a local court banned the practice, causing outrage among Muslims and Jews.

The cabinet  announced support for proposals om Wednesday that would explicitly allow the practice.

The June ruling by a Cologne district court that circumcision constitutes "bodily harm" prompted an emotional national debate about religious freedom and the procedure itself.

The case came to court after a doctor carried out the circumcision, and it led to medical complications.

The German Medical Association then told doctors across the country to stop performing the procedure - thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in the country every year.

European Jewish and Muslim groups joined forces to contest the ruling, which they said was "an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights".

An embarrassed German government pledged to bring in new legislation by the autumn to safeguard the right of parents to have their sons circumcised.

"It was always our intention to lift this ruling," Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman, said.

Parliament must still approve the bill for it to become law.

The speed with which national politicians agreed to draw up a new law underscored sensitivity to charges of intolerance in a country haunted by its Nazi past.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country risked becoming a laughing stock if Jews were not allowed to practise their rituals.

The bill states that the operation should take place with the most effective pain relief possible and only if parents have been fully informed about the nature of the procedure.

About 120,000 Jews are registered as living in Germany along with around four million Muslims, many of them from Turkey.

Source: Agencies