Romania bans Holocaust denial and promotion of fascism

New legislation targets ultra-nationalist groups who revere WWII far-right paramilitaries

Noua Dreapta gay marriage protest
(Image credit: Daniel Mihaileschu/AFP/Getty Image)

Romania has officially outlawed the denial of Romania's complicity in the Holocaust, amending previous legislation that only outlawed denial of the Holocaust as a historical fact.

The bill was approved by the Romanian parliament last month and signed into law by President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday.

More than a quarter of a million Romanian Jews and 11,000 Roma were sent to their deaths under the Nazi-allied regime of dictator Ion Antonescu. Romanian troops were complicit in the deportation of Jews and mass killings. Under the new law, denying this involvement in the Holocaust will be illegal. Eighteen countries currently have some form of legislation dealing with Holocaust denial.

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According to The Blaze, the legislation also bars "fascist, racist or xenophobic organisations and symbols" and "promoting people guilty of crimes against humanity", with a potential penalty of up to three years' imprisonment.

The new amendments are targeted at the handful of active far-right groups operating in the country, particularly those who celebrate or imitate the fascist Iron Guard 'Legionary' movement, active in Romania from 1927 to 1941. The ultra-nationalist paramilitary group was responsible for the assassination of Liberal prime minister Ion Duca in 1933, as well the Bucharest Pogrom of 1941 in which 125 Jews were tortured and killed.

The largest of the Romanian far-right groups, Noua Dreapta (New Right), uses a Celtic cross symbol similar to the Iron Guards's own emblem, and reveres their founder Corneliu Codreanu, respectfully referred to as 'the Captain'.

Believed to have up to 2,000 members, Noua Dreapta combines militant nationalism with a fervent devotion to the Orthodox Church, and is opposed to – among other things – homosexuality, abortion, interracial marriage, Communism, globalisation, the EU and democracy.

In 2003, the US International Religious Freedom Report claimed Noua Dreapta had "repeatedly harassed verbally and sometimes physically" Mormons in several cities around Romania. The group was also fined in 2005 for attempting to break up a GayFest pride parade in Bucharest.

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