Victoria has become the first Australian jurisdiction to ban the Nazi swastika, with those who defy the ban to face jail terms and hefty fines.
Legislation passed both houses of parliament on Tuesday making it a crime to publicly and intentionally display the Nazi symbol — known as the Hakenkreuz.
Those who do so could face up to 12 months in jail and a $22,000 fine.
The symbol will still be able to be used in appropriate contexts, given its cultural and historical relevance.
The swastika, an equilateral cross with the arms bent at 90 degrees to the right, is an ancient symbol that is 15,000 years old and used in a number of religions as a symbol of divinity.
The state government said it consulted “religious, legal and community groups … to understand the religious use of the swastika and ensure exceptions are in place for appropriate displays of the Nazi symbol, such as for educational or artistic purposes”.
The government will fund a campaign to educate the public on the importance of the symbol to these communities, and how it is different from the Nazi symbol.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said in a statement that the symbol “does nothing but cause further pain and division”.
“It’s a proud moment to see these important laws pass with bipartisan support – I’m glad to see that no matter what side of politics, we can agree that this vile behaviour will not be tolerated in Victoria,” she said.
Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, welcomed the ban, for which he has been campaigning for the past five years.
“As our nation confronts the deep stain of a resurgent white-supremacist movement that peddles a dangerous and dehumanising agenda, this parliament has declared that the symbol of Nazism will never find a safe harbour in our state,” he said.
The legislation will come into effect in six months.