Public display of hate symbols to be banned in Western Australia

  • Criminal Code Amendment (Prohibition on Display or Performance of Nazi Symbols or Gestures) Bill 2024 to be introduced into Parliament
  • Bill regulates the display of Nazi symbols and the performance of the Nazi salute in public
  • Maximum penalties of imprisonment for five years, or imprisonment for two years and fine of $24,000 on summary conviction

The Cook Labor Government will ban the display of Nazi symbols and the performance of the Nazi salute in public under laws to be introduced into State Parliament today.

Nazi symbols, such as the Hakenkreuz, are associated with anti-semitism, genocide and racial hatred, and are offensive to most people in the community. In recent years, Nazi symbols and the Nazi salute have been usedtovilifyandthreatenvulnerablegroups in the community, including the Jewish community and LGBTQI+supportgroups.Incidents involving the display of Nazi symbols and gestures have been increasing in Australia.

To address this, the Cook Government’s proposed reforms will criminalise the public display and application of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances, as well as criminalise the performance of the Nazi salute.

The reforms will make it unlawful to display a Nazi symbol in a public place. This offence would also capture the situation where the Nazi symbol is not physically in the public place, but would be visible to someone from a public place – for example, if someone was to display a Nazi symbol in a window of their residence. The definition of display expressly includes the public display of a tattoo that comprises a Nazi symbol. It also captures the public display of a person performing the Nazi salute, such as through a statue or picture.

The reforms will also prohibit the application of a Nazi symbol to public property by way of vandalism or graffiti, or to the property of another person without their consent.

Further, a person will commit a crime if they make a gesture in public which is intended to be a Nazi salute.

Perpetrators will face fines of $24,000 and imprisonment for two years if convicted summarily, and imprisonment for five years if convicted on indictment. Defences are provided for persons displaying Nazi symbols for legitimate reasons, such as for academic purposes or to report fairly and accurately on matters of public interest.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“We are fortunate to live in an ethnically diverse State – a community where vilification and hate crimes have no place.

“The display of Nazi symbols is offensive to most people, particularly to the Jewish community, survivors of the Holocaust and their families, and those who have fought against fascism.

“These laws will help to keep our community inclusive, fair and harmonious.”

As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:

“The proposed new offences introduced by this Bill broadly align with recent reforms in other Australian jurisdictions, which specifically target the display of Nazi symbols and gestures.

“These laws will address serious vilification and hate crimes against culturally diverse groups by making it a criminal offence to display hate symbols to invoke fear in others.

“The legislation will protect against this form of discrimination and hold perpetrators who commit these crimes to account.”

As stated by Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Dr Tony Buti:

“It’s unacceptable and very disappointing that incidents involving the display of Nazi symbols and gestures have been increasing in Australia.

“We will not accept the deliberate use of these symbols to promote fear, division and hatred towards members of our community.

“We must not allow individuals or groups in our community to be vilified based on their religion, ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Comments attributed to Mount Lawley MLA Simon Millman:

“We have an incredibly successful multicultural community and there is no place in Western Australia for the small minority who peddle violence and hate.

“The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history. It undermines our shared values and causes significant distress and harm to many in our community.

“These laws send a strong message to all Western Australians that this vile behaviour will not be tolerated.”

/Public Release. View in full here.