New South Wales parliamentary inquiry committee has unanimously recommended a ban on the public display of Nazi symbols.
The Standing Committee on social issues report noted:
“None of the participants in the inquiry expressed opposition to the objectives of the bill.”
This move has been welcomed by both Jewish and Hindu groups in the state.
Darren Bark, Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said in a statement:
“NSW is today one step closer to banning the Nazi swastika. The Nazi swastika is an emblem of pure evil.
It represents the dehumanisation of millions of people and one of the most inhumane, hate-based and murderous regimes and ideologies to ever exist.”
It is further reported that the bipartisan committee “expressed strong support for the bill’s protective objectives, including for individuals and groups in our community who are hurt, offended or intimidated by the public display of Nazi symbols”.
For the Jewish people, Nazi Hakenkreuz (meaning “hooked cross” and mistakenly translated as “Swastika”) is a constant reminder of racial hatred and the loss of life of millions of people under Adolf Hitler.
The ancient Hindu symbol of Swastika (meaning “well-being”) has been used also been used by Buddhists and Jains for millennia.
However, the committee has recommended some exceptions such as the use of the swastika symbol by Hindus.
Surinder Jain, National Vice-President of Hindu Council of Australia in the joint statement observed:
“Our sacred symbol of the Swastika representing peace and prosperity is often confused with the evil Hakenkreuz.”
He further added:
“We hope that this legislation will ban the hate symbol while freeing our sacred symbol from indoor imprisonment.”
In 2021, Victoria became the first state or territory to initiate legislation outlawing Nazi symbols.
Another Australian state, Queensland, is also thinking of introducing similar laws.
Queensland Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee report notes:
“The committee recommends that the Queensland government establish a criminal offence that prohibits the display of hate symbols, including those relating to Nazi and ISIS ideology, with considered exceptions to the prohibition.”
Under the proposed legislation, the maximum penalty for an individual flouting the ban would be a $5500 fine or imprisonment for six months or both.
The new bill is set to be debated in the parliament.