From 29 December 2022, it is an offence to intentionally display a Nazi symbol in public. This symbol is also called a Hakenkreuz or the Nazi swastika. Symbols that closely resemble these are also banned.
The law does not ban the display of the Nazi symbol for genuine educational, scientific or artistic purposes.
There are very serious penalties for intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in public. These can include large fines and imprisonment.
When is it against the law?
- in a public place
- or in public view
if you knew, or should have known, it is the Nazi symbol.
This means that police have to prove that you knew, or should have known, that the symbol was a Nazi symbol. They also have to prove that you meant to display the symbol publicly.
What is the penalty?
If you are found guilty of committing the offence, you could face a maximum penalty of:
- a fine of approximately $22,000 or 120 penalty units
- 12 months imprisonment
- or both a fine/penalty units and imprisonment.
When can the symbol be displayed?
The law does not ban the following uses of the Nazi symbol:
- the public display of the symbol for genuine religious or cultural purposes, such as its use as a significant symbol in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and other faith communities
- the use of the symbol for genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific purposes
- using the symbol while making or publishing a fair and accurate report which is in the public interest
- use of the symbol in opposition to neo-Nazism or other related ideologies.
You are not breaking the law if you have a tattoo of a Nazi symbol.
What can the police do?
Police can charge you if they suspect you have committed the offence of publicly displaying a Nazi symbol.
Police can also tell you or an owner or occupier of a property to remove a Nazi symbol from public view, if they reasonably believe you are committing an offence
If you do not follow the direction of the police, they may charge you with failing to follow a police direction to remove a Nazi symbol from public view. This can result in a fine of approximately $1,800 or 10 penalty units.
Other support and information
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
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Reviewed 23 December 2022