October 18, 2011
BUCHAREST, Romania—Romania's anti-discrimination council has voted to caution President Traian Basescu for making discriminatory remarks about Gypsies and disabled people.
The government council voted 5-2 to caution Basescu for the remarks, with the two officials who voted no saying such comments are protected by freedom of expression.
Arguing that a republic is a better system than a monarchy, Basescu recently said: "If you end up with (an heir) who has disabilities, what do you do? You let him be the head of state?" He also said that Romanian Gypsies in Finland "have started to steal on the buses."
In the past, Basescu was criticized for calling a journalist "a stinking Gypsy."
Romania is believed to have 1.5 million Gypsies, but many do not declare their ethnicity because of widespread discrimination against the minority.