Victoria is on track to become the first Australian state or territory to outlaw the Nazi swastika, with a renowned anti-hate activist hailing the proposal as "historic." It will be illegal to willfully exhibit the Nazi swastika, commonly known as the Hakenkreuz, in public under the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. Once the Act takes effect, violating it may result in fines of about $22,000, a year in prison, or both.

Attorney General Jaclyn Symes said the groundbreaking reform will make it absolutely clear that Nazi and neo-Nazi ideas have no place in Victoria when she announced it on Wednesday. "The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history – its public display does nothing but causes further pain and division," she added.

Secret Nazi Base
Swastika Symbol Reuters

Hindu Swastika symbol exempted 

"As a government, we want to do all we can to stamp out hate and give it no room to grow." She stated that the legislation will take effect a year after it is passed, allowing for a community education effort to enhance understanding of the religious and cultural significance of the swastika, as well as its differentiation from the Nazi symbol. The bill does not prevent the swastika from being displayed in religious or cultural situations.

Children light lamps in the shape of Swastika, on the eve of Hindu festival of Diwali,  [Representational image]Reuters

"We do know that the swastika is a symbol of peace, love and acceptance for the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities and is a really important symbol for their faith," Symes said. She noted that there will be "proper exemptions" for the Nazi insignia to be used for educational and historical purposes. Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, praised the announcement after a five-year effort to ban public displays of the Nazi insignia.