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Australia enacts comprehensive ban on Nazi symbols and salutes

To curb what experts believe is a potential resurgence of far-right extremists, new legislation was introduced in the Australian Parliament back in June 2023, banning the public display of Nazi symbols throughout the entire country.

Among the symbols that were banned are flags, t-shirts, armbands, and other symbols related to the extremist German 20th-century political party led by Adolf Hitler and the paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel, or SS. Publishing the symbols online will also be penalized.

In the past, due to its religious significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, the Nazi salute and the swastika were not included in the ban. Offenders could face a maximum of 12 months of imprisonment under the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill.

The legislation has received support from Jewish groups in Australia, explaining that public display of Nazi symbols causes distress to survivors of the Holocaust.

However, months later, some states have already banned not only the symbols but also salutes in public. On November 29, the government of South Australia announced the new laws, which are set to pass through the state parliament. They will prohibit the exhibition of swastikas and the performance of the Nazi salute, carrying potential fines of up to $20,000 or a maximum imprisonment of 12 months.

“Let’s be clear, the Nazi salute is an offensive gesture. It has no place in Australian society, but we think that the banning of these gestures is a matter for state and territory laws,” Australia’s chief law officer, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus explained.

Also, he said that the government and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prioritize tackling far-right extremism.

Australian experts believe the Nazi symbols are being used as weapons of intimidation and motivate new members to join radical groups.

Several individuals were also reported standing in front of the Victorian Parliamentary House with hands raised in Nazi salute during a rally hosted by Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull who is notable for opposing transgender rights, which analysts believe is evidence of Australia’s white supremacist movement revival.

individuals in front of the Victorian Parliamentary House

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Director-General Mike Burgess already warned that far-right extremists in the country are getting bolder and more confident in taking their cause to the streets.

“We have seen a rise in people drawn to this ideology, for reasons we don’t fully understand,” the security chief said.

The state of Victoria in Australia was the first to file laws penalizing the public display of Nazi symbols and gestures in late December 2022. Australia’s most populated state New South Wales also filed the ban in the same year.


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