After banning the swastika in 2022, the state of Victoria, Australia, could also ban the Nazi salute.
Local authorities announced this intention after a new demonstration by the neo-Nazi organization Nationalist Socialist Network on Saturday 18 March.
About 30 men dressed in black marched past parliament in Melbourne, displaying the Hitler salute, their right arms pointed forward.
The scene took place on the sidelines of a rally against transgender rights, which brought together some 300 people.
It was organized on the initiative of Keen-Minshull, alias Posie Parker, British activist founder of the group “
Standing for Women
”, who defended herself from any association with the far-right group.
I absolutely hate everything that has to do with the Nazis
,” she reacted.
The presence of the neo-Nazi group sparked an altercation with the hundred counter-protesters also gathered, generating a police intervention.
In the process, the Attorney General of Victoria, Jaclyn Symes, announced that the government would introduce in the coming months a bill to ban the Nazi salute.
It is clear that this symbol is used to incite hatred against a type of people, a type of minority groups
,” she denounced.
First Australian state to ban the swastika
Last June, Victoria's centre-left Labor government was the first in Australia to criminalize the public display of the swastika.
This decision followed a proliferation of anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi incidents.
In January, a photo circulated on social media showing a group of neo-Nazis posing in the neighborhood of Elwood, a suburb with a large presence of Jewish residents, and displaying a red and blue flag symbolic of the Australian European far-right movement.
In its latest report published in early 2023, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) recounts 478 anti-Semitic incidents recorded across Australia during the year 2022.
Victorian legislation provides for a sentence of up to 12 months in prison and around $15,000 in fines for displaying the Nazi symbol.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Jaclyn Symes had already signaled her desire to go further by also banning the gesture of the outstretched right arm, used in Hitler's Germany to greet the Führer.
To date, only a few countries have prohibited it, such as Germany, Austria, Poland or Slovakia.
The episode in Melbourne also took on a political dimension as an elected member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, also a member of the center-right Liberal Party, Moira Deeming, was present among the anti-transgender protesters on Saturday.
On Sunday, party leader John Pesutto in Victoria signaled his intention to expel him from the party for "
organising, promoting and participating
" in the rally.
Although she did not take part in the neo-Nazi demonstration, "
her position is not tenable
", declared John Pesutto.
The violence, prejudice and hatred that these protesters have conveyed through their heinous actions will never be acceptable in our state
For her part, the elected official judged this motion of expulsion "
" and contrary to "
freedom of thought and expression
Neo-Nazi demonstrations are not limited to the state of Victoria, and are taking on a national dimension.
In the state of Queensland, in the northeast, two police officers and a resident were killed in December 2022 by three people claiming to be from a movement of “
The attack, described as “
” by the federal authorities, shook Australia.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese later announced that he wanted to review Australia's terrorism laws, taking stock of the "
potential of these groups to radicalize individuals who then launch attacks
", is it indicated on the government website.