Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk will make her state the second to ban Nazi and other hate symbols to ensure extremists are “called out, confronted and condemned”.
She will introduce a bill on Thursday that criminalises the intentional display of symbols to promote hatred or cause fear, such as the swastika, which is also known as the Hakenkreuz.
It’s understood there will be exceptions for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains for whom swastikas are religious symbols.
Ms Palaszczuk said her decision came after a Nazi flag was displayed near the Brisbane Synagogue and a train carriage was vandalised with Nazi slogans and symbols last year.
“That will make it a criminal offence to display symbols promoting hatred and causing fear,” she said.
“These crimes are not harmless. Nor are their ideologies.
“They are to be called out, confronted and condemned.”
Queensland’s plan for a ban on hate symbols comes after the Victorian government introduced a bill to ban them. The NSW government is also set to follow suit.
Last year, a Queensland parliamentary committee recommended prohibiting hate symbols, including those representing the Nazi and ISIS ideologies, after an inquiry into serious vilification and hate crimes.
It’s unclear if the Premier’s bill will cover social media and internet displays of hate symbols, which was also recommended by the committee.
“The committee notes the proliferation of vilifying commentary on various social media platforms and considers that the public nature of social media usage needs to be recognised in the definition of ‘public acts’ for the purpose of anti-vilification legislation,” its report said.
The cross-party panel said the legal discrimination protections should be widened from race, religion, sexuality and gender identity, to include disability, medical status, sex characteristics and intersex status.
It also proposed make hate or serious vilification an aggravation in criminal cases and that civil incitement test be lowered so it shouldn’t have to prove offenders actually incited hate crimes, only that their actions were likely to.
The committee called on the government to set up a hate scrutiny panel for police and community groups to engage in mutual education on vilification.