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June 30, 2009, 10:54 CET
Parliament rejects bid to change constitution to punish Holocaust denial
Parliament on Monday rejected the ruling Socialist party's proposal for a constitution change which aimed to make Holocaust-denial punishable.
In a vote of 189 to 165 and 5 abstentions, deputies voted down the Socialist proposal to lift Holocaust-denial, currently regulated by the Criminal Code, to a constitutional level.
The Socialists put forward the proposal in the wake of a neo-Nazi gathering in Budapest Castle in April, where speakers made remarks denying the Holocaust.
Socialist MP Gergely Barandy said earlier in parliament on Monday that through the vote it would transpire whether the main opposition Fidesz party was willing to distance itself from extremist forces.
A civil group, the Szabadsag (Liberty) Kor, said that adopting the Socialist tightening would only strengthen extremist manifestations. Spokesman for the group Gergely Gulyas said that a consensus had formed over the past 20 years of the limitations of sanctioning hate speech and that society must differentiate between politically rejecting such manifestations and making them a subject of criminal law.
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