Submitted by AJDS on February 27, 2012 – 12:08
In an article recently published in the Australian Family Association journal, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen writes that the real goal of the homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools is “the teaching and validation of homosexual behaviour at the early stages of child education”. He further argues that homosexual behaviour is a moral wrong.
Rabbi Cowen is essentially claiming that the homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools has an agenda hidden behind the overt purpose of eliminating bullying behaviour.
This claim deserves condemnation for two reasons: Firstly, because it seeks to discredit a program aimed at protecting vulnerable young people in our community. Secondly, because it validates the discriminatory attitudes on which the bullying behaviour overtly relies for its justification.
Even accepting that Rabbi Cowen himself agrees it is unmistakeably clear to “all good and reasonable” people that “the bullying of a child on any grounds is reprehensible and must be stopped”, arguing that homosexuality is abnormal behaviour undermines any anti-discriminatory message.
Writing from his religious perspective Rabbi Cowen reflects the attitude of religious authorities down the ages when he says that “however common or strong homosexual impulses may be in certain individuals, that will not make homosexual practice permissible”. That position has ever been used by some to justify the vile persecution of those who are different to the majority.
We stand alongside those Jews and others who firmly believe that we need to be accepting of the wide variety of sexualities that are manifest in our community. Bullying and exclusion – whether by schoolchildren or by rabbis, or indeed by anyone else – needs to be combated. Regardless of traditionalist religious interpretations, it is vital that the Jewish community, and the wider community, become places of inclusivity and belonging.
Dr Jordy Silverstein, Harold Zwier: Australian Jewish Democratic Society
27 February 2012