Rabbi’s remarks dubbed delusional | Melbourne mX

This story appeared on page 2 in the Melbourne mX on February 16, 2012, following on from the previous day’s cover story.


Rabbi’s remarks
dubbed delusional
Nadia Salemme

Jewish community groups have
distanced themselves from a
rabbi who criticised antibullying
programs for gay teens.

Aleph, a social and support
group for Jewish gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender
people, has condemned the
remarks by Rabbi Dr Shimon
Cowen as deluded.

He had claimed support programs
about gender and sexual
diversity in schools ‘‘could in fact
cultivate and encourage homosexuality
amongst many children
who would ordinarily grow
into heterosexual lifestyles’’.

Aleph spokesman Michael
Barnett said of Cowen: ‘‘He
needs to understand that people
who impose their religious
beliefs on same-sex-attracted
people are doing more harm
than good, and that it actually
adds to their suffering, misery
and is completely unacceptable.

‘‘It’s not a very helpful perspective
when it comes to
understanding the issues behind
sexuality and the very sensitive
nature of young children.’’

Barnett said he regularly received
calls from ‘‘distressed’’
Jewish families who needed
support for young gay people.

‘‘These people are suffering
badly – it’s because of the attitudes
of people like this rabbi
who have repressed discussion
in the community, repressed
tolerance and inclusion, and
unconditional love,’’ he said.

The Executive Council of Australian
Jewry has also distanced
itself from Cowen’s comments.

In a statement, it described
Cowen as ‘‘highly respected in
our community, but that does
not mean that his views on any
subject are representative’’.

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