In an Australian first, Victoria has banned the public display of the Nazi symbol, often referred to as the swastika.
The Summary Offences Amendment Bill 2022 was passed on the 21 June, which makes it a criminal offence for a person to intentionally display the Nazi symbol.
The intentional display of the Nazi swastika will result in a maximum of penalty of almost $22,000 dollars or twelve months jail time and possibly both.
This new law is meant to show that Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology has no place in Victoria.
It is important to note that the Bill recognises the cultural and historical significance of the symbol for Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain as a sacred symbol of good fortune and peace. The display of the symbol is not prohibited in religious and cultural contexts.
The ban will be supported by a community education campaign to raise awareness of the origins of the religious and cultural swastika, its importance to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities and its distinction to the Nazi symbol.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes says she is glad to say that no matter what side of politics you are on, it can be agreed that the display of the Nazi swastika will not be tolerated.
“The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history – its public display does nothing but cause further pain and division.”
The Government undertook consultation with religious, legal and community groups on the offence, including to understand the religious use of the swastika and ensure exceptions are in place for appropriate displays of the Nazi symbol, such as for educational or artistic purposes.
“These laws are part of our unwavering commitment to challenge antisemitism, hatred and racism wherever and whenever they occur,” says Minister of Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence.
This legislation will come into effect six months from now to allow time to implement the campaign.
The government plays to monitor the use of hate symbols and may consider the inclusion of additional hate symbols at a later stage.