An Australian state has become the first in that country to ban the display of swastikas, threatening that those who intentionally share the symbol could face jail time or a hefty fine.
“Victoria has become the first in Oz to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol, recognizing its role in inciting antisemitism & hate,” tweeted Victoria’s Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Services Jacyln Symes. “It’s a proud moment to see these important laws pass. It sends the strongest possible message that this vile behaviour wont be tolerated.”
“In our state, nobody has the right to spread racism, hate or antisemitism. Ever. That’s why last night we passed legislation to ban the Nazi symbol. And now, it’s the law,” Premier Dan Andrews wrote on Twitter.
Those who intentionally exhibit the Nazi symbol face up to a year in jail or a A$22,000 fine (just under CA$20,000.)
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According to SBS News in Australia, far-right terrorism investigations increased by approximately 750 per cent in 18 months, and officials say they only expect that number to climb.
“Islamist or religiously motivated violent extremism remains the predominant threat at about 85 per cent of our workload,” Australian Federal Police’s assistant commissioner Scott Lee told the outlet last October.
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“It’s very concerning to us and where we see individuals … where they have a violent extremist ideology and have expressed a view to act on that violent intent, and either have or are attempting to obtain firearms, we take that very seriously and we take action.”
According to the BBC, Victoria is responding to what have been called “gaps” in their anti-hate speech laws. Calls for change increased last year after a couple in the state flew a swastika flag over their home in 2020.
However, the symbol will still be allowed to be shown if it appears in educational, artistic or historic contexts. Also, Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious groups can still use the symbol, as it’s been part of these religions for centuries.
Under the new law, offenders will only be prosecuted if they deny a request to remove the symbol.
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