(JTA) — The Australian state of New South Wales is closer to banning the swastika.
A bipartisan bill authored by an opposition Labor Party member would ban the public display or dissemination of the symbol associated with the Nazis. The bill includes exemptions for those who use the symbol as part of Hindu traditions.
The bill imposes maximum penalties of approximately $4,000 and six months in prison.
A Standing Committee on Social Issues will now consider amendments before advancing the bill to the full Legislative Council, Australia’s upper legislative body, for debate, the Australian Jewish News reported.
The committee secured a joint endorsement of the bill from the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and the Hindu Council of Australia.
“The Nazi swastika is an emblem of pure evil. It represents the dehumanization of millions of people; the death of our Australian servicemen and women; and one of the most inhumane, hate-based and murderous regimes and ideologies to ever exist,” Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said in the joint statement.
The bill was introduced by the shadow minister for police and counter-terrorism, Walt Secord, who is Jewish. Secord is also the deputy chairman of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel.
Police have tallied a rise in extremist behaviour in New South Wales over the past two years, Australia’s ABC News reported. Secord said that in 2020, police were notified 31 times about Nazi flags being displayed, but were powerless to act.