Anti-racism bill to be tabled again in Parliament

Draft legislation that aimed to introduce stiffer criminal sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence and to criminalize denial of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is to be reintroduced to Parliament on Thursday after a four-month hiatus.

The anti-racism bill was first presented to the parliamentary committee for public administration, public order and justice on November 20 but was withdrawn on December 3 before MPs managed to start a second reading of the legislation.

Opposition parties, as well as coalition partner PASOK, blamed former cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos for the bill being snatched from Parliament. Baltakos was forced to resign last week over a secretly filmed video of him meeting with Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris.

Over the past few days Democratic Left and PASOK called for the legislation to be brought back to Parliament so it could be passed at committee level and then be put to the plenary.

The decision to reintroduce the anti-racism bill is also seen as an attempt by New Democracy to heal its differences with PASOK in the wake of Baltakos’s departure. It is believed the move came after a conversation between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos.