Victoria is set to become the first state in Australia to outlaw any public display of Nazi symbols, J-Wire reports.
The new law is part of a comprehensive package of reforms designed to eliminate “hateful behavior” and discrimination based on race, religion, orientation, illness, or disability.
The ban on displaying Nazi symbols comes in part due to the government’s recognition that there has been a recent rise in neo-Nazi activity, leading to more “hate behavior.”
“All forms of hate are unacceptable,” said Victoria’s attorney-general, Jaclyn Symes. “Expanding our anti-vilification laws to protect more Victorians sends a clear message that this vile behavior will not be tolerated.”
Minister for Multi-Cultural Affairs Ros Spence added that, “Nazi symbols glorify one of the most hateful ideologies in human history. We must confront hate, prevent it, and give it no space to grow.”
Shadow Minister for Police & Crime Prevention, David Southwick said: “Today is an important step forward for all those who have been victims of the ultimate symbol of hate – the Nazi Swastika.
“For too long, frontline police and local communities have been powerless to stop the Nazi swastika being used as a tool to spread hate. More recently we have seen a rise in extremist nationalist and racist individuals and groups and this ban will go a long way toward taking away the symbol that they hide behind.”
Responding to the news was the Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, who told J-Wire: “Well done to the Victorian government for taking this initiative … Social media has encouraged an unprecedented proliferation of Nazi hate symbols, old and new, which are a blight on contemporary life. New codes and symbols are continually being developed by hate groups, and the legislation will need to be flexible enough to capture this. We hope that the Federal government will follow suit and enact legislation to ban the display of hate symbols across Australia.”
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria also welcomed the news.
“Our community comprises a large number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and this recognition to finally ban the swastika and all Nazi symbols is of particular significance to us,” the Council said in a statement. “This process has taken years to achieve. We applaud the Government, acting with bipartisan support, for enabling these hate symbols to be banned and for police to have the tools to respond when needed.”
“2021 has been a year of heightened antisemitism for Australian Jews,” noted Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of AIJAC. “The perpetrators of antisemitism in Australia come from the extremes of our community – neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, extreme Islamists, and the far-left, who often use Israel or Zionism as a proxy for Jews,” he pointed out.
A recent poll indicated that a majority of Australians want the swastika banned.