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New laws, stemming from a parliamentary inquiry into hate crimes in Queensland, seek to combat the targeting of diverse groups and better protect victims by banning references to Nazism in public.
The change was announced by the Palaszczuk government this morning, with new laws and recommendations to take effect later this year.
The premier said any reference to Nazi symbols would not be tolerated, with serious consequences for perpetrators.
“These crimes are not harmless and nor is the ideology behind it,” Palaszcuk said.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the Parliament Legal Affairs and Safety Committee had made 17 new recommendations to crack down on hate crimes, including the new ban on hate symbols.
All 17 of the recommendations will be implemented.
“Depictions of hate symbols have no place in Queensland,” Fentiman said.
“As a community, we cannot tolerate the deliberate use of these symbols to promote hatred towards communities that have been persecuted and cause those people fear.
“Our existing laws respond to some of the issues examined by the Committee, however, we are committed to strengthening our laws to ensure our diverse communities are better protected.”
During the federal election campaign, campaign posters became the target of anti-Semitic vandalism, including those of former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish.
Queensland’s Multicultural Affairs Minister Leanne Linard said the new laws would not apply to those practising Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism, for whom the swastika is used as a religious symbol – where its use predates its adoption by the Nazis by centuries.
“We know that swastika symbols have a profound meaning in some religions,” Linard said.
“The new laws will allow these symbols to be used in these respectful circumstances but prevent them from being used as a symbol of hate.”
She added she wholeheartedly supported the legislative changes, adding the impact of hate crimes cannot be understated.
“I meet and work with people from across our ethnically diverse state every day and have heard first-hand of the devastating effects of vilification and hate crimes”, Linard said.
“This new legislation will protect against this form of discrimination and hold Queenslanders who commit these crimes to account.”