On the 21st of October 2023 new laws were introduced in Victoria to ban the Nazi salute. There were already laws in place preventing the use of the Hakenkreuz (hooked cross Nazi symbol) these new laws now expand that to cover all symbols and gestures related to the Nazi group.

A Melbourne man is the first to have been reported breaching these laws, since they were put in place. He was walking out of the Victoria County Court when he said in front of cameras “heil Hitler” whilst raising his right arm. He then makes a further comment whilst walking away calling out “Australia for the white man, heil Hitler.”

What constitutes an offence?

You will commit an offence under these laws, if you intentionally display or perform a symbol or gesture used by the Nazi Party in a public place or within the view of the public. It will also need to be proved that you ought to have reasonably known, that the symbol or gesture is a Nazi symbol or gesture.

What is the penalty for committing an offence?

A person who commits an offence could face fines of $23,000.00 or 12 months imprisonment, or both.

What are the exceptions?

A person is not committing an offence if they display or perform a Nazi symbol or gesture reasonably and in good faith. This includes for genuine academic, artistic, educational, or scientific purpose, or in making or publishing a fair accurate report of any event or matter of public interest. Further exceptions include, if a person display’s a Nazi symbol for genuine cultural or religious purposes. This ensures certain religions can continue to use the sacred swastika. Or the use of a Nazi symbol or gesture in opposition to Nazism or related ideology. Tattoos of Nazi symbols or gestures are also an exception to this ban.

What will happen if you are caught breaching these laws?

Police have the power to arrest and charge you if you’re in breach. Police can also direct you to remove the symbol from public view. If you are asked to remove the symbol and do not follow those instructions, you could be charged and receive a fine of approximately $1,900.00 or 10 penalty units.

Our team specialize in criminal law. Our role is to sit down with you and work out the strategy that will get you the best possible result. If you have any questions about this article or any other topic of law, please call our team of experts on 1300 066 669.