Victoria becomes first Australian state to ban public displays of swastikas

Victoria's new swastika bill means that anyone who publicly displays the Nazi symbol will face fines, prison or both • Hindus, Buddhists and Jains are exempt, since it is a symbol of peace

A Nazi armband with a swastika displayed in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A Nazi armband with a swastika displayed in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Victoria became Australia's first state to pass a bill banning the public display of swastikas this week.

Chairman of Australia's Anti-Defamation Commission Dr. Dvir Abramovich, who was at the helm of a five-year campaign to get the bill passed, was the only member of the public present at the passing of the bill in the Victorian Parliament's Legislative Council.

The passing of the bill means it will now be a criminal offense for any person to deliberately display a swastika publicly, which can lead to fines of up to 22,000 Australian Dollars ($15,100) and/or imprisonment.

The bill contains exemptions for members of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions to whom the swastika is historically a symbol of peace.

The only member of parliament to oppose the bill was Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democrats.

 An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY) An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)

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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," said Abramovich.

"This shining law is about who we are as a people and honors our sacred values and our common humanity," he declared. "It is also a booming 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."

"Over the jangling sounds of prejudice and division, the bells of respect, diversity and freedom now ring louder in Victoria."

Dr. Dvir Abramovich

Abramovich went on to express his "everlasting gratitude" to the government for passing the bill.

“The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history – its public display does nothing but cause further pain and division,” Australia's attorney-general Jaclyn Symes told The Guardian.

“As a government, we want to do all we can to stamp out hate and give it no room to grow.”