Displaying Nazi symbols in public and on social media will become a crime in the Territory under new laws introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (23 November).
The laws will also give police the power to direct a person to remove the symbols from display while perpetrators could face a $19,200 fine or 12 months in prison.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, who introduced the legislation, said the laws would make it a crime to display the Hakenkreuz (the Nazi symbol) at an event, to post it on social media or to wear the symbol.
The Hakenkreuz is different to the swastika which is a symbol of purity, good fortune and love for people of the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist faiths.
Under the proposed laws, the symbol would still be allowed to be used for cultural or educational purposes, including “for a genuine academic, artistic, religious, scientific, educational or cultural purpose”.
It would also still be allowed to be used in opposition to fascism or Nazism.
For example, a bookshop could display the symbol on the cover of a textbook about World War II.
Mr Rattenbury said the laws were intended to reduce opportunities for racism and vilification and send a strong message that the ACT Government and the community would not tolerate the display of Nazi symbols and the “hate they represent”.
“The new offence will support the right of minorities, including the right to culture under the Human Rights Act by reducing the likelihood that members of the community will feel intimidated or threatened and therefore unable to engage in their own religious beliefs or culture,” he told the Assembly.
Victoria and NSW have recently adopted similar laws while Queensland and Tasmania have proposed them.
In NSW, waving a Nazi flag or displaying memorabilia bearing swastikas can land a person in jail for up to a year, along with a fine of $11,000.
Those laws passed that state’s parliament in August this year.
Similar to those proposed by the Territory, they allowed exceptions for people who wanted to display the swastika for religious reasons.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark described the passing of those laws as “a historic day”.
“[This is a] significant blow to those who promote hate and vilification in our community,” he said.
“Nazi symbols are a gateway to violence and are used as a recruitment tool by extremists.”
Victoria was the first state to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol. It did so in June.
Anyone who now intentionally displays the Nazi symbol in public in that state faces penalties of up to almost $22,000, 12 months’ imprisonment or both.