Queensland to ban swastikas under new hate crime laws

queensland government premier annastacia palaszczuk nazi flag
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Queensland will ban public displays of Nazi swastikas as well as other “hate symbols” under proposed changes to strengthen anti-vilification laws.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government will outlaw the hate symbols, such as those related to Nazi ideology, under new laws to combat hate crimes and serious vilification.

Palaszczuk said Queensland was a freedom-loving society but no-one has the right to spread fear and hate.

“Nazism is evil,” she said.

“Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.”

She said late last year, police seized a Nazi flag flown near a Brisbane synagogue (pictured above). A few months earlier, vandals graffitied a train carriage in the suburbs with swastikas and Nazi slogans, she said.

“These crimes are not harmless and nor is the ideology behind it,” she said.

“They are to be called out, confronted and condemned.”

‘Depictions of hate’ like swastikas have no place in Queensland

A Queensland parliamentary committee inquiry into serious vilification and hate crimes reviewed the nature of the crimes and state’s laws to prevent them.

The committee made 17 recommendations for change, including introducing a criminal offence prohibiting the public display of hate symbols.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the Queensland Government accepted the recommendations and would introduce a new criminal offence to do so.

“Depictions of hate symbols have no place in Queensland,” the Attorney said.

“As a community, we cannot tolerate the deliberate use of these symbols to promote hatred towards communities that have been persecuted and cause those people fear.”

Fentiman said swastika symbols have a “profound meaning” in some religions and the new laws would exempt their “respectful” use.

“We are committed to a Queensland that is harmonious, fair and inclusive. Not one where individuals or groups are vilified based on their race, religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or gender,” she said.

“We are committed to strengthening our laws to ensure our diverse communities are better protected. That’s why we will be accepting all recommendations of the committee.”

Government pledge to strengthen laws to protect LGBTIQ+ Queenslanders

The parliamentary committee also recommended the Queensland government ensure anti-vilification laws cover a range of attributes. Among them are sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, intersex status and HIV status.

Other recommendations relate to Queensland Police’s record-keeping for reports of hate crime and vilification, and creating a scrutiny panel reviewing the reporting and communication of cases.

The committee also recommended changes to laws to better protect people online.

“The committee notes the proliferation of vilifying commentary on various social media platforms,” the committee report said.

“The public nature of social media usage needs to be recognised in the definition of ‘public acts’ for the purpose of anti-vilification legislation.”

Queensland is the second Australian jurisdiction to announce a swastika ban, after Victoria proposed a bill recently.

Once it comes into effect, those who publicly display the symbol face $22,000 fines, 12 months in prison or both.

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