WA to ban display of Nazi symbols

The West Australian government plans to criminalise the display and possession of Nazi symbols, with some exceptions.

The display of such symbols was offensive to many people, particularly the Jewish community, Holocaust survivors and those who fought against fascism, the government said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Nazi symbols such as the swastika were not only used in association with antisemitism but have been used in vilifying other groups in the community, including Muslims and LGBTQIA+ groups, the statement said.

The legislation will extend to the display of Nazi symbols on tattoos.

Attorney-General John Quigley said the WA government would not tolerate "hate groups which seek to spread fear, division, and violence in our multicultural society".

"We will continue to work with stakeholder groups during the drafting of the new laws to ensure we strike the right balance between banning offensive behaviour and preserving legitimate uses of the swastika."

The reforms, once passed, will prohibit the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances, and will provide penalties, including jail, for any person who contravenes the law.

The government said it recognised there were legitimate purposes for the display or possession of a Nazi symbol, such as genuine academic or educational purposes, buying or selling bona fide World War II memorabilia, or publishing fair and accurate media reports of matters of public interest.

"Given that the swastika continues to be used as a symbol of peace and prosperity in some religions, the law will not prohibit display or possession of the swastika when legitimately used in connection with a genuine religious purpose," the government statement said.

Victoria and NSW passed legislation recently to criminalise the display of Nazi symbols, and Queensland and Tasmania have recently announced the intention to do the same.

Jewish Community Council of WA President Geoff Midalia said the legislation would be a triumph of civility in WA over "hatemongers and bullies" who use Nazi symbols as a rallying signal.

"The continual use of Nazi symbols in our public discourse is ignorant and offensive in the extreme," he said in a statement.