Displaying Nazi Symbols (NSW)
In New South Wales, it is an offence under section 93ZA of the Crimes Act 1900 to publicly display a Nazi symbol. This offence was introduced in 2022 in response to an increase in hate crimes, particularly those motivated by antisemitism. This page outlines the offence and the various community responses to its introduction.
Under section 93ZA, it is an offence to knowingly and without a reasonable excuse, publicly display a Nazi symbol. For an individual, this offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 100 penalty units, imprisonment for 12 months, or both. For a corporation, it carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 500 penalty units.
The Act provides that a person has a defence to this charge if the display was done reasonably and in good faith for:
- an academic, artistic or educational purpose; or
- another purpose in the public interest.
A person charged with displaying a Nazi symbol in New South Wales will be dealt with in the Local Court.
Similar laws have been introduced in several other states in the last two years. In Victoria, it is an offence to display a Nazi symbol or a Nazi gesture in public. In Queensland, it is an offence to display a prohibited hate symbol. In Tasmania, only Nazi symbols are prohibited.
The federal government has also recently introduced legislation to make it a commonwealth offence to display a prohibited symbol.
Responses to ban on displaying Nazi symbols
The new laws were welcomed by community organizations such as the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, whose CEO, Darren Bark, said the new laws would be ‘a game -changer in tackling online hate’. The Hindu Council of Australia also voiced its support for the changes.
However, critics have questioned how effective the new laws will be in suppressing extremism. Some sceptics have questioned whether it is appropriate to criminalise the use of specific symbols when many other symbols are also widely used by extremist groups. Others have argued that the laws may have unintended consequences, such as the increased use of prohibited symbols or the adoption of new symbols by extremists to circumvent the laws.
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