LAST week in The AJN there was a full-page colour advertisement, authorised by Paul Monagle of the Australian Family Association. This advertisement is a scare tactic deliberately designed to stop people from voting yes to same-sex marriage by suggesting that doing so would somehow lead to children questioning their gender, as if that’s a bad thing.
There is no evidence that same-sex couples getting married leads to children questioning their gender identity. However that the Australian Family Association would promulgate such nonsense is unsurprising really.
It is alarming to see the advert in The AJN from a hate organisation like the AFA, one that seeks to destroy the lives of same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender-diverse people.
It’s also alarming that the advertisement makes the inaccurate claim that a London Jewish school was threatened with closure due to not teaching about “gender re-assignment and sexual orientation”. I had previously looked into these claims, made by Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby, and found them to be not only devoid of facts but outright misleading.
The primary reason why the Vishnitz Girls School failed three Ofsted tests was because they failed to provide a safe environment for their students:
In fact, the school had also failed to put in place the correct procedures for the safety of children. That is, there was no system in place for reporting neglect or abuse of the students. This is something that should be of great concern to all, and certainly an urgent need to be addressed as religious schools struggle with child sexual abuse.
This information is online and readily available for all to see in the Ofsted reports.
The school was not threatened with closure as a direct or indirect result of marriage equality in the UK and it certainly had nothing to do with transgender people getting married. In fact, the legislation in the UK makes many provisions for equality and religious exemptions.
In Australia, transgender people can currently and do get married under civil law as long as the birth certificate of one spouse indicates male and the other’s indicates female.
The Marriage Act currently excludes people who are in a same-sex relationship, along with those who do not identify as exclusively female or exclusively male.
This latter group includes some intersex people, gender neutral people, and gender-fluid people.
So really, this advertisement in The AJN, attempting to whip up hysteria and fear around transgender people, is wrong on every level. It is misleading, inaccurate and one that should be condemned by the entire Jewish community.
The advert finishes with the words “Don’t let the same thing happen here.” Don’t fall for this slippery slope nonsense. Jewish schools will not be closed down if same-sex couples are allowed to get married. What schools teach is quite independent of the Marriage Act, an act of Parliament that just regulates marriages, not school curricula.
What will happen if same-sex couples are allowed to get married is their children will have happier parents and a more stable home environment. Same-sex couples will be afforded the same protections under the law heterosexual couples currently have, currently denied to us. There are actually quite a few protections marriage offers that those in a domestic partnership (gay or otherwise) do not have. Also, the few cases of married couples where one partner has gone through gender transition will not need to get divorced for the birth certificate of the transgender spouse to be corrected. This current requirement for divorce is cruel and unnecessary.
Jews have known discrimination for millennia. We are a people who have endured the worst crimes against humanity and we know what pain and suffering is. We also say “never again”. We should add to that “and not to others”.
If ever there has been a time for a community to come together as one and show solidarity for all Australians, it is now. We must recognise that it is fundamentally wrong to deny people equality before the law, interfere in other people’s relationships, spread lies and misinformation, and deny people their dignity.
Vote Yes for equality.
Vote Yes for respect.
Vote Yes for dignity.
Vote Yes because it’s the right thing to do.
Michael Barnett is convenor of Jewish LGBTIQ support and advocacy group Aleph Melbourne.