Fact sheet – Nazi symbols and gestures

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What's the new law about Nazi symbols and gestures?

It is now illegal for a person to publicly display a Nazi symbol if the person knows, or should know, that the symbol is a Nazi symbol.

It is also illegal for a person to perform a Nazi gesture if:

  • the person knows, or should know, that the gesture is a Nazi symbol or gesture
  • the gesture is performed by the person in a public place or where the gesture would be visible to the other person
  • a Nazi gesture is performed on private property that is visible to the public (such as a public street).

When can Nazi symbols or gestures be allowed?

The new law is clear that the display of a swastika in connection with Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism is not related to the Nazi meaning and therefore is not illegal. This means that people displaying a swastika as part of a religious festival or in a business or home will not be doing something illegal when it is connected with Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism.

There are circumstances where there is a legitimate public purpose for a Nazi symbol to be displayed. For example:

  • For academic, artistic, religious, scientific, cultural, educational, legal or law enforcement purposes – such as a display of a Nazi symbol as part of a museum exhibition that is educating the public on the atrocities of WW2, or a report or news report where people are displaying the Nazi symbol.
  • For the purpose of opposing, or demonstrating against, fascism, Nazism, neo-Nazism or other similar or related ideologies or beliefs.
  • For another purpose that is in the public interest. The law recognises that there may be other instances where it is in the public interest to display a Nazi symbol, and in such circumstances, the display will not be considered illegal.

Determining whether a person knows, or should know, that the symbol is a Nazi symbol or gesture includes considering individual circumstances such as the person’s age, education and life experiences.

What is a Nazi symbol and Nazi gesture?

The following symbols are some of the main symbols used by and associated with the Nazis or with Nazi ideology in Australia:

A Nazi gesture includes the gesture known as the Nazi salute or a gesture that is likely to be confused with, or mistaken for, such a gesture. For example:

What if I post a Nazi symbol online?

A person will be breaking the law if they display Nazi symbols online where the communication is visible to the public – such as on a website or via a social media platform. However, this does not extend to private communication, such as online private messaging.

What if I have or get a tattoo with a Nazi symbol?

It is not against the law if the symbol is a tattoo or body modification. If a person is charged with breaking the new law because they have shown in public a Nazi symbol that is a tattoo or permanent body modification, they will not be guilty of breaking the law if the person can prove that the symbol is a tattoo or permanent body modification.

What if I am charged with this new crime?

Someone who is found guilty of breaking this new law can receive a maximum fine of 20 penalty units (currently $3,900) or a maximum prison term of 3 months. If a person breaks the same law again within 6 months, the maximum penalties are doubled. That means that a person could get a fine of 40 penalty units ($7,800) or 6 months in prison. The amount of the fine will go up each year.

Anyone charged with breaking this law will need to go to Court and should seek legal advice beforehand. The sentence will be set by the Magistrates Court. Anyone can receive free legal advice from Tasmania Legal Aid by calling 1300 366 611.

Does this law just apply in Tasmania?

Other Australian States and Territories have similar laws against the display of signs and symbols related to Nazi ideology. People in Tasmania who display the Nazi symbol or gesture will be charged according to the Tasmanian law. People who display the Nazi symbol in other Australian State or Territory will be charged according to the laws in that State or Territory.

The Commonwealth government is also introducing new laws against the sale of items which display the Nazi symbol. These new laws will apply across all of Australia.

Last updated: 7-February-2024