Italian Parliament. (AP/Gregorio Borgia) (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
Italian Parliament

Italy’s parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that would criminalize the spreading of Holocaust-denial propaganda as well as any statements that deny genocide or crimes against humanity. Those prosecuted could face two to six years in prison.

The bill was passed by Italy’s lower legislative house, the Chamber of Deputies, with 237 members voting in favor and five against, in addition to 102 abstentions. The measure is a modification of an existing law that criminalizes racial, ethnic, and religious incitement in Italy. The International Court of Justice is responsible for determining what constitutes genocide and crimes against humanity.

“By approving this law, parliament intends to tackle the most subtle forms of racial defamation, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and incitement to hatred,” said Chiara Gribaudo, the deputy leader of Italy’s Democratic Party.

Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the vote “historic” and said the law would be “a fundamental new tool in the fight against professional liars, while safeguarding at the same time inalienable principles such as freedom of opinion and research,” Haaretz reported.

The Italian Senate first approved the bill in February, and the measure was awaiting approval from the Chamber of Deputies before it could be written into law.