The legislation includes the prohibition of symbols such as swastikas as well as the one-armed salute linked to the German National Socialists and Italian Fascists of the 20th century who murdered and tortured millions, including Jews, Roma and Sinti and LGBTQ people, among others.
“We strongly condemn any display of hate in our community, and I am very pleased to have personally driven these important reforms that will help us deliver a safer and more caring community for all,” Attorney General and Minister for Justice Elise Archer said.
Protections for minority groups
The law is expected to come into effect later this year and carries a three-month prison sentence for first-time offenders.
“Our Government acknowledges that Nazi symbols are used to promote hate not only against Jewish people but also other minority groups,” the justice minister said in a government press release.
It also includes caveats to protect the use of the swastika by certain religious communities that have nothing to do with Nazi ideology.
“Importantly, [the bill] also acknowledges the continued importance of the swastika to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities, and clearly states that the display of a swastika in this context is not an offense,” Archer added.
Responding to the rise of fascist groups
The Tasmania bill is the first in Australia to ban the Nazi salute, but the swastika was banned in the state of Victoria last year and the federal government is also considering legislation to ban the sale and public display of Nazi symbols and paraphernalia.
However, Victoria is also now looking to ban the Nazi salute after neo-Nazis showed up at a trans rights event in Melbourne and started throwing up their arms in imitation of supporters of Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany.
Australian broadcaster ABC has also reported an increase in violent threats from far-right extremists against LGBTQ events across the country, sometimes resulting in the cancelation of those events.
Germany, the home of the original National Socialists, has also banned public displays of Nazi symbols and Nazi salutes. However, some neo-Nazis have gotten around this by coming up with new symbols that hint at the illegal versions.
DPA contributed to this story.
Edited by: Sean Sinico