Victoria is ready to become the first Australian state or territory to ban the disclosure of a Nazi swastika called a “lightning strike” to white supremacists.
The Victoria State Government introduced a law in the Legislature on Wednesday, banning the intentional disclosure of symbols throughout the state.
The abbreviated prosecution amendment (Nazi symbol ban) bill is expected to pass through both homes with bipartisan support and applies only to the Nazi swastika, also known as Hakenkreuz.
Religious versions of symbols linked to Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain beliefs remain legal.
Although there are exemptions for historical, educational, and artistic purposes, memorabilia with the Nazi swastika can still be traded as long as they are covered when the symbol is exposed.
Attorney General Jacqueline Sims described the law, which does not cover the online display of the insignia of hatred, as a landmark to the fight against hatred in society.
“We know that this is a symbol of hatred and encourages anti-Semitism,” she told reporters.
Those arrested for violating the law face up to a year’s imprisonment and a $ 22,000 fine, but will only be charged if they do not comply with the police directive to remove the symbol.
Symes said there is room to add other Nazi and hatred symbols, such as SS Bolt.
“If people start pivoting to other symbols of hatred to circumvent the law … that’s what we certainly see,” she said.
The Nazi symbol was scribbled on the Victorian politician sign during the federal election campaign. Meanwhile, a neo-Nazi group was recently kicked out of the Melbourne venue to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday with a swastika-decorated cake.
Police also had no power to stop the neo-Nazi music festival in 2019, and the following year the couple raised a red and black Nazi flag over their Beulah property.
In early 2021, a parliamentary investigation recommended that the state’s defamation prevention law be extended across races and religions and banned. The latter has been promised by the government to be reviewed.
Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said Victoria is facing an “epidemic” of Nazis Wasstica organized by the neo-Nazi movement.
“This is an uplifting and victorious moment for all Victorians,” he said of the bill.
“It has hit the solar plexus of the neo-Nazi movement here in Victoria. He just puts people like me in the gas chambers and dreaming of Hitler and the Fourth Reich in Australia.”
President Daniel Agion of the Jewish Community Council in Victoria said anti-Semitic cases have increased by 37% across Australia over the past year.
He admitted that the biggest penalties were unlikely to stop “malicious” actors, but said the ban would send a strong message.
Once passed, the Nazi symbol ban will not take effect until the end of the 12-month educational campaign to raise awareness of the swastika’s religious and cultural origins.
David Southwick, a member of the Jewish community and deputy liberal leader in Victoria, wants the government to enact legislation more quickly.
“It’s time to act,” he said.
In addition, another Australian state, New South Wales, is preparing its own law banning the publication of the Nazi symbol after being unanimously recommended in a February parliamentary investigation.