Nearly three years after it was first brought to parliament, Greek MPs are poised to pass an anti-racism bill which human rights groups say still falls far short of dealing with an epidemic of racist and homophobic violence in the country, writes The Guardian.
Referring to the long anticipated anti-racism bill passed in principle from the Greek Parliament last week, it rings the bell for the rise of homophobic violence in the country.
“International consternation has been exacerbated by the recent surge of attacks on men and women in Greece’s gay community – often by black-shirted supporters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
Piling the pressure on the government, EU Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks urged Greek authorities to move forward with the adoption of wide-ranging anti-racism laws.
In a statement, he said: “The reported rise of homophobic attacks and the continuing racist hate crime in Greece signal the urgent need to adopt and effectively implement comprehensive legislation in order to eliminate intolerance, hate speech and violence in the country.”
The Guardian cites many stories of violent events that took place this summer.
“Over the summer, assailants have not only targeted dark-skinned immigrants but also appear to have singled out gay people for attack. Some have been so brutally beaten, they have required extensive surgery after being set upon in public. One man, a schoolteacher, who would only give his name as Kostas, told The Guardian how he and his Kashmiri partner were savagely beaten up two weeks ago as they sat on a bench in a downtown Athens square,” it writes.
Greek security forces have been accused of complying with racist violence, the newspaper suggests. “Officers who were discovered to have been collaborating with the neo-fascist Golden Dawn have been removed from their posts. After six years of withering economic crisis, the party is the country’s third-biggest political force despite most of its leadership being detained in pre-trial custody on charges of running a criminal operation that sowed terror on the streets of Greece”, it writes.
The bill, which seeks to reinforce legislation drawn up in the 1970s, will toughen criminal sanctions for those inciting hatred, discrimination and violence. Deniers of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity will also be penalized. But human rights groups said it still failed to encourage the reporting of violent hate crimes or guarantee appropriate action by the police and judiciary.
Right-wing MPs have resisted introducing legal protection for gay people, despite an alarming rise in homophobic attacks in Athens, claiming that such measures could take Greece down a dangerous path.
With debate at such levels, there is concern that, far from curbing hate crimes, the law will allow violence to flourish, the newspaper suggests.