New Democracy executives held a meeting yesterday where it was attempted to downplay the controversial anti-racism bill drafted by the Ministry of Justice, tovima.gr writes. It was decided that the current legislation on racism was adequate and that they are not establishing a statutory offense, since that would infringe upon the freedom of expression.
In the meeting, the government’s general secretary Panagiotis Baltakos, the PM’s associate advisor Chrysanthos Lazaridis, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Charalambos Athanasiou, former Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the secretary of New Democracy’s Parliamentary Group Athanasios Bouras and the President of Parliament’s Ethics and Transparency Committee Anastasios Neratzis were present, who, after extensive discussion on the controversial bill, they decided that the current legislation (Law 927/79, article 79, paragraph 3 of the penal code) is adequate to deal with racism and that New Democracy will not vote statutory offense “which would violate the constitutionally protected principle of freedom of expression”.
They concluded that “any potential improvements are possible and desirable” and claimed that a great proportion of scientists have been skeptical about Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis’ bill.
According to media reports, the bill would outlaw incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose jail sentences of up to six years on offenders, according to reports.
MPs would not be excluded and parties that receive public funding would see it suspended if their leaders publicly denied the Holocaust, took part in racist attacks or used Nazi salutes or symbols in parliament.