Video: Transgender dissidents make Nazi salutes in Melbourne, Australia (Reuters)
Australia announced on Thursday that it will introduce bills in parliament next week that would ban the public display and sale of Nazi hate symbols amid rising far-right activity in the country.
Under the new legislation, the swastika, one of the most recognizable symbols of the Nazis, and the symbol of the Nazi SS militia, will be banned on flags, armbands or clothing. Anyone who breaks the law may be punished with up to one year in prison.
"Unfortunately, we've seen an increase in the number of people displaying these vile symbols, which are symbols that have no place in Australia, they should be repugnant," Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus told local Channel 7. "Unfortunately, we've seen violence at some of the public events that these people have held."
According to the attorney general, the new laws will not include a ban on Nazi salutes. He added that local authorities in various Australian states could enforce the ban more effectively. "State governments have more responsibility for what can be called street crimes, and our law applies to public display, including online. We left the Nazi salute to the countries," he said.
Neo-Nazi activists make Nazi salutes at a demonstration in Melbourne last month (Photo: Reuters)
The attorney general said all Australian states and territories have passed similar laws or announced plans to ban Nazi symbols, and federal laws promoted by the government would be combined with local laws. The laws will exclude artistic, academic or religious use of the swastika, which has spiritual significance in various religions.
Australia's intelligence agency has warned that far-right groups in the country are gaining strength, and that they have become more organized and visible.
In March, a group of neo-Nazis clashed with transgender rights protesters in Melbourne and members made Nazi salutes near the local parliament. Last year, a football fan who gave Nazi salutes at Australia's Cup final was banned for life from stadiums.
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