The public display of Nazi symbols such as the swastika is now a criminal offence in the ACT, after new laws were passed in the Legislative Assembly.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said both physical and online displays of Nazi symbols in public were now banned, with police given the power to remove the symbols.
Under the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, offenders could face a maximum $19,200 fine or 12 months in prison, or both.
“The new offence sends a strong message to the ACT community that we do not tolerate the public display of symbols intended to incite hatred,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe and live their lives in our community free of intimidation and threats.
“The offence protects ACT community members including Jewish people, people with a disability and LGBTIQ people, from the harm caused by public displays of Nazi symbols.”
The new offence also applies to people in the ACT who broadcast a Nazi symbol to a public audience beyond Canberra’s borders, such as on social media.
People will still be able to publicly display swastikas for legitimate reasons, such as people of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, teachers, artists and protesters.
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.
Introducing the bill to the Legislative Assembly last year, 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.
The ACT bill follows similar laws in other states, moves by the Albanese Government to ban Nazi symbols and the sale of goods-for-profit featuring Nazi symbols.
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.