Queensland is preparing new laws that will make it a crime to display hate symbols – such as swastikas that promote fascist Nazi ideology.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman today announced that the State Government planned to introduce a new criminal offence later this year to make it illegal to publicly display hate symbols.
Ms Fentiman said the proposed reforms would go a long way to combat hate crimes and serious vilification within the community.
The move follows an inquiry by the parliamentary Legal Affairs and Safety Committee, which subsequently recommended that the offence be introduced.
Ms Fentiman said the committee had made 17 recommendations after reviewing the nature and extent of hate crimes and serious vilification in Queensland, and the effectiveness of existing laws.
“Some of the recommendations will require more detailed analysis once the Queensland Human Rights Commission review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 is complete so we can consider proposed reforms holistically to ensure consistency in our approach to these important issues,” Ms Fentiman said.
“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.
“Subject to consultation with legal and community stakeholders, we hope to introduce legislation to make that happen during the second half of 2022.”
Ms Fentiman said depictions of hate symbols had no place in contemporary Queensland society.
“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,” she said.
“We are committed to a Queensland that is harmonious, fair and inclusive, not one where individuals or groups are vilified based on their race, religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or gender.”
Multicultural Affairs Minister Leanne Linard said the proposed legislation would address serious vilification and hate crimes against a myriad of culturally diverse groups.
“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,” Ms Linard said.
“This new legislation will protect against this form of discrimination and hold Queenslanders who commit these crimes to account.
“We know that swastika symbols have a profound meaning in some religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland was a freedom-loving society, but no one had the right to spread fear and hate.
Ms Palaszczuk drew on an oft-used famous quote used by world leaders – including late US President John F Kennedy and regularly, but incorrectly, attributed to 18th Century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke – when she said: “Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.”
“Nazism is evil. These crimes are not harmless and nor is the ideology behind it.”