ATHENS – A bill aimed at getting tough on racism and hate crimes – which has serious opposition – has the support of the Greek Orthodox Church now.
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece issued a statement backing the bill that would create stiffer penalties for individuals and political parties which engage in racism or incite racist violence.
The measure, scheduled to be debated in Parliament next week, is aimed at the ultra far-right Golden Dawn party whose leaders have been arrested and jailed on charges of operating a criminal gang. It has widely been reported they also use Nazi methodology and have denied the Holocaust happened.
In a statement, the Synod noted that the provisions of the bill could contribute to “the effort to safeguard social peace for all… irrespective of sex, color, religion,” although it hasn’t been extended to offer more protection to gays.
The clerics asked for one additional provision to be inserted in the bill prohibiting the rejection of the genocide of Christians in Asia Minor between 1908 and 1922.
The legislation, which has been repeatedly delayed and redrafted, is still opposed by 38 conservative New Democracy MPs who object to the fact that it lacks a clause banning the rejection of the genocide of Christians in Asia Minor and of Black Sea Greeks.