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June 21, 2022 12:17 pm

Victoria Becomes First Australian Territory to Ban Display of Nazi Swastika

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Parliament House in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Elekhh via Wikimedia Commons.

Victoria has become the first state or territory in Australia to criminalize the public display of the Nazi swastika, after passing a bill with bipartisan support on Tuesday.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022 states that anyone who intentionally displays the Nazi symbol in public could face penalties of up to almost 22,000 Australian dollars in fines, 12 months imprisonment, or both, when the legislation comes into effect in six months.

The bill will only ban the display of the Nazi swastika, recognizing the cultural and religious significance of the symbol for Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other faith communities, which include those who hold it as a sacred symbol of peace and good fortune.

The Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) led a five-year campaign to ban the public displays of Nazi swastikas in Australia. ADC’s Chairman Dvir Abramovich attended the bill’s passage in the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament, where, after a six-hour debate, it was opposed by only one lawmaker, Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democrats

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“We have toiled for years to reach this glorious and hard-won moment of victory, and this fateful day is the culmination of a long and faithful struggle to defeat the forces of evil who seek not only to break our spirits but to instill fear,” Abramovich said in a statement.

He described the bill as a tribute “to our valiant diggers who fought to vanquish Hitler, the six million Jews and millions of victims murdered by the Third Reich, and the triumphant survivors who rebuilt their lives here.” He also said its passage “reminded us that at a time when our politics are sharply polarized, we can come together across our differences to stand for justice, dignity, and equality.”

“As our nation confronts the deep stain of a resurgent white-supremacist movement that peddles a dangerous and dehumanizing agenda, this parliament has declared that the symbol of Nazism will never find a safe harbor in our state.”

Victoria’s government said will continue to monitor the use of hate symbols and may consider including other symbols in the legislation at a later time.

Victoria’s Attorney General Jaclyn Symes said, “The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history — its public display does nothing but cause further pain and division.”

“It’s a proud moment to see these important laws pass with bipartisan support,” she added. “I’m glad to see that no matter what side of politics, we can agree that this vile behavior will not be tolerated in Victoria.”

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