MEDIA RELEASE: GOV’T GIVES $20K GRANT TO PROMOTE INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES TO HOMOPHOBIC ORGANISATION
JULY 13 2012
J-Wire reports  the Institute for Judaism and Civilisation (IJC)  has been awarded a $20,000 grant to produce a teaching manual of the shared values of Christianity, Islam and Judaism to strengthen resilience against violent extremism. Aleph Melbourne welcomes government grants of this nature and sees them as a valuable opportunity to further relationships between religious communities.
Attorney General Nicola Roxon describes of the Building Community Resilience grants program :
We want to support local projects to build stronger, more inclusive communities. … Grants such as this will fund practical new activities to assist individuals and communities to resist and disengage from intolerant ideologies and encourage positive community participation.
Director of the IJC, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, is on the record in his 2012 submission to the Senate on “homosexual marriage”  as inferring that homosexuality is prohibited by God and that to allow any recognition of homosexuals is to show defiance to the universal ethics of God.
Cowen was also embroiled in a controversy earlier this year where he openly advocated for reparative therapy for gay people and that the anti-homophobic anti-bullying program Safe Schools Coalition Victoria be de-funded. 
Cowen’s stance is clearly at odds with this shared values program, which is described as funding “practical new activities to assist individuals and communities to resist and disengage from intolerant ideologies and encourage positive community participation.”
Cowen and the IJC have blatantly demonstrated an intolerance of homosexuality.
Michael Barnett, Convenor of Aleph Melbourne said, “By allocating this significant grant to such an organisation that fosters intolerant homophobic ideologies is a slap in the face to all same-sex attracted Jews, Christians and Muslims who are trying to gain acceptance in their respective communities. Further, it sends the message that homophobic intolerance is acceptable.”
Federal MP Michael Danby has commended Cowen and said that this grant will allow the faith communities to explore their similarities and avoid extremism.
Barnett said, “The irony of the situation is that followers of ultra-conservative religious perspectives common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, people like Shimon Cowen, believe that practitioners of homosexuality are sinners who should be shunned and actively discouraged from acting on their innate sexual orientation. Some extremist viewpoints of these religions go so far as to say such people are worthy of death.”
Barnett calls on Danby and Roxon to revoke the $20,000 grant allocated to the IJC on the grounds that the IJC is a proponent of intolerant ideologies and to reallocate the funds to organisations that embrace diversity.
Further comment available from Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541.
Update – January 5 2013 & October 5 2015
Since this media release was issued the AG web site link has changed. The new grants program page can be viewed http://www.livingsafetogether.gov.au/newsandblog/Pages/Building-resilient-communities.aspx. Details of the grant application in question can be viewed in full here and summary here.
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