The Italian Parliament has passed a bill criminalizing Holocaust denial only a few months after the green light was given by the Senate. The bill passed with a large majority.
The proposed bill will punish people who promote, incite or commit acts of racial discrimination based in part or entirely on the denial of the Shoah. It will be examined again by the Senate, since it needs to be approved again as a result of the increased penalties introduced by the Chamber (from a three-year to a five-year sentence).
“This new law represents a significant step forward so that the Italian legal system can effectively repress professional haters and deniers, while preserving the inviolable right to free inquiry and free opinion,” the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) Renzo Gattegna commented after the vote of the Chamber (340 deputies in favor, 1 against, 107 abstentions). The law – when finally approved – will cover specific cases of hate propaganda and public incitement.
President Gattegna was invited to witness the vote together with the president of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello, her deputy Ruben Della Rocca, member of UCEI board Victor Magiar and former president of local Community Riccardo Pacifici.
The vote followed a three-hour debate among representatives of different political parties. Center-left and center-right majority groups, Partito Democratico and Forza Italia, expressed their favor. Populist parties such Five Star Movement and Lega Nord decided instead to abstain.
Center-left deputy Walter Verini, who presented the bill to the Chamber, expressed his hope that the law could become effective on a date with strong symbolic meaning: January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.