Media Release: JCCV tackles homophobia but must prove it is serious

Aleph Melbourne Media Release
March 28 2013
“JCCV tackles homophobia, but must prove it is serious”

Aleph Melbourne congratulates the Jewish Community Council of Victoria for aligning themselves with the No To Homophobia1 campaign, as announced2 in this week’s Australian Jewish News.

The No To Homophobia campaign aims to challenge all forms of harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people.  With the JCCV signing up for these values it paves the way for greater acceptance and inclusion of GLBTIQ people in the Jewish community and will work to reduce the extreme marginalisation and intolerance that GLBTIQ people face at the Orthodox end of the religious spectrum.

As the only organisation representing the combined interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Melbourne’s Jewish community, Aleph Melbourne all too frequently sees the effects of intolerance of sexual orientation and gender identity, especially when it emanates from within the Jewish community.

A recent example of homophobia in the Victorian Jewish community is when Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen3 called for the defunding of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria program and published his beliefs that homosexual people should undergo sexual reorientation therapy to make them heterosexual.

Another example of homophobia in the Victorian Jewish community is the Rabbinical Council of Victoria writing a submission4 to the Australian Senate opposing changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to obtain civil marriages.

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett asks of JCCV President Nina Bassat “Signing up to the No To Homophobia campaign is definitely a step in the right direction, but how is the JCCV going to counter homophobic attitudes from the intolerant sections of the Jewish community, especially when it comes to equal recognition of our relationships under Civil law and other forms of legalised intolerance such as that where Jewish organisations are allowed to discriminate against LGBTI people, especially when they are Jewish.  It’s simply not enough for the JCCV just to ask their membership to also sign up.  That is not affirmative action.”

Barnett states “The JCCV must show that joining No To Homophobia is a sincere attitude change and not just window-dressing.  The lives of vulnerable same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth are at stake here and there is no room for hollow platitudes.”

Aleph Melbourne looks forward to the seeing the JCCV bring along its constituents in this new chapter and the accompanying benefits to the community that this entails, in particular building stronger and more inclusive families and reducing the rate of youth suicide, self-harm and mental health issues.

Aleph Melbourne also looks forward to the JCCV taking proactive initiatives to counter homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in all Jewish schools by recommending they all join the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria5.  There is also ample scope for the JCCV to work with Jewish sporting organisations to reduce homophobic intolerance and promote positive role models in those spaces.

Contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 for further comment.



JCCV says no to homophobia | AJN

See also:
Media Release: JCCV tackles homophobia but must prove it is serious
No To Homophobia

Friday, March 29, 2013
The Australian  Jewish News
Page 7

JCCV says no to homophobia


THE Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) will join the “No to Homophobia” campaign and is asking its affiliate organisations to sign up too.

The “No to Homophobia” initiative aims to challenge all forms of harassment and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) people.

The campaign aims to reduce the incidence of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment in Victoria – and beyond – by empowering people who identify as GLBTIQ as well as the broader community to respond and speak out against this harassment.

According to JCCV president Nina Bassat, the campaign promotes respect between people and healthy relationships, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identification.

Bassat acknowledged the emotional turmoil members of the GLBTIQ community can face, whether it be at school, in the workplace or in the wider community.

“No-one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;’ she said. “The mental wellbeing issues in relation to bullying, depression and lack of self-esteem can be catastrophic.’

By Jewish organisations joining the campaign, the JCCV not only anticipates a greater level of understanding and awareness within the Jewish community, but also an education with respect to what constitutes homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment. For instance, phrases such as “That’s so gay’.

Sally Goldner, a spokesperson for Transgender Victoria and a member of the JCCV’s GLBTIQ reference group, said as a transgender person she has been received fairly well by the Jewish community, and feels this move can only make people more tolerant.
“This is an amazing step forward that pushes diversity higher. It’s sensational,’ she told The AJN.

The JCCV will officially request that its affiliates become part of this campaign at their next plenum meeting in May.

Media Release: Not all Australians share the same opportunities as Michael Danby

27 MARCH 2013

Aleph Melbourne, a support organisation that advocates for the welfare of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people of Jewish background, welcomes local MP Michael Danby’s elevation to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Arts.

Danby’s electorate of Melbourne Ports covers an area with significant Jewish and gay populations.  Many Aleph Melbourne members are constituents in his electorate.

On J-Wire [1] Danby asserts that in Australia people from all backgrounds are able to have so much opportunity and demonstrates this by relating how in just one generation, as a child of refugees, he became a member of the Federal Executive.

In the same paragraph Danby then quotes the late Jewish Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson about the necessity for obligation and gratitude.

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said in response, “It’s rewarding that someone like Michael Danby can attain an elevated status in society coming from such humble beginnings, but the reality is that not all Australians share the same opportunities as him.”

“Danby casually throws around platitudes and quotes, but he needs to distance himself from extreme views held by the likes of Schneerson, a person who believed homosexuality was destructive and abnormal.” [2]

“Danby plays well to his Jewish constituency but recklessly ignores his large gay constituency.  Just last year he abstained from the Parliamentary vote on marriage equality, a vote that would have seen him practicing what he preaches, giving his gay and lesbian constituents the opportunity to marry, an opportunity he is privileged to have.”

“He may well consider his gratitude an obligation, but he shows no gratitude to those gay voters who may identify as Jewish and who continue to support him.”

Barnett called on Danby to distance himself from the homophobic and intolerant teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and to support marriage equality so that all Australians can have equal opportunity, regardless of their backgrounds.

“It’s time Danby came out and wholeheartedly supported marriage equality.  He has the right to get married.  We all should.  He’s no better than the rest of us.  We’ve had enough of him just simply keeping quiet or delivering half-baked answers.  He needs to stand up and be counted.” Barnett said.


Contact: Michael Barnett (0417-595-541).

[1] (Mar 25, 2013)