Joint Statement on the Religious Freedom Review recommendations from LGBTI organisations and leaders – 23 October 2018
‘Independent, Jewish, gay.’ @frankelly08’s final observations after the #Wentworth by election.
Livia Albeck-Ripka from The New York Times reported in her October 18 2018 article “In Some Australian Schools, Teachers Can Be Fired for Being Gay”:
In Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community, a teacher reported losing her job after revealing she was transgender.
It is alarming to read that a teacher has lost her job because she revealed her gender identity and not for any failure to perform her duties as a teacher.
This sends a message that transgender people cannot freely express their gender in a workplace that is exempt from adequate anti-discrimination protections, thereby making their workplace unsafe for them.
Transgender people experience significant levels of discrimination in society due to intolerance, which feeds into elevated levels of suicidal ideation. Schools should be places of learning and knowledge, not intolerance.
If a teacher was sacked for revealing a Jewish identity this would be seen as anti-Semitism, yet it seems there’s another standard for Jewish schools when the act of revealing a gender can lead to termination of employment.
This is a clear case of double standards and is entirely unacceptable.
2018 Wentworth by-election candidate responses to ECAJ “religious freedom” question.
[ The information below is drawn from the four linked J-Wire pages. We have ordered the candidates alphabetically by surname. ]
In the interests of ensuring that our community is properly informed and engaged in the political process The Executive Council of Australian Jewry asked the four candidates currently polling at over 10% of the primary vote (as per the Reachtel poll published on 17 September), to state their positions on matters of special concern to Jewish Australians.
The same-sex marriage survey last year has led to claims that religious freedom is not adequately protected in Australia, and that religious institutions and organisations should have enhanced rights to discriminate in favour of members of their own faith, or to promote their own beliefs.
- Do you agree?
The same-sex marriage debate was about removing the state-supported discrimination that was enshrined in law (within the marriage act). This had no impact on the rights of religious institutions to continue their faith-based practices in the existing manner including practice or promotion of their beliefs.
The Australian community, including the Wentworth community, strongly voiced its support of removing discrimination in Australian law and in civil practice.
To legislate in a manner that establishes, in law, a right to discriminate against a segment of the Australian community is against the majority of strongly held community sentiment and should not be supported.
Allowing a religious, or religiously-affiliated institution to discriminate against one minority group would open the door to other forms of discrimination that are against community values – such as religious discrimination.
If religious schools or institutions practice discrimination outside of the law, and outside of community standards, then they forfeit the right
I am comfortable with the marriage equality legislation passed last year and the protections it provides.
I believe that all Australians should be free to practice their religion, provided that does not impinge on the rights or freedoms of others.
More than any other group, the Jewish community understands the consequences of discrimination on the basis of religion.
I do not believe in any form of discrimination.
At a time when their only worry should be whether they get their homework done in time, some children have to worry that they may be expelled from school because they are gay or transgender.
We know the consequences of marginalisation and rejection are serious and potentially fatal, with high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in children and young people who are rejected or lack social support if they think they are gay or transgender.
Schools should provide supportive environments for these children and young people.
I believe that religion and faith communities should provide comfort and protection for vulnerable young people, not be the source of distress and despair.
As a doctor I am deeply concerned that after the bruising marriage equality campaign, yet another debate about the personal lives of LGBTQI people will open those wounds again.
Wentworth is quite a progressive community. 80% voted for same-sex marriage, as I did.
I would be opposed to any new measures that impose forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, or anything else.
It is important to many, right across Australia, that people be free to choose their religion and express and practice their beliefs, without intimidation – so long as they practice their beliefs within the framework of the law.
The Government is considering the report of the expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock, which received 15,000 submissions on this issue. I’m confident the Government will get the balance right.
Wentworth Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma must condemn the white-supremacist “It’s OK to Be White” motion backed by over a dozen MPs in his party.
Dave Sharma is the Liberal Party candidate in the 2018 Wentworth By-election.
He proudly announced a $2.2million grant from the federal government for security infrastructure for the NSW Jewish community, welcomed by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (NSW JBD):
“The federal government’s grant will help ensure that the security risks faced by the Jewish community are reduced,” he said.
This “urgent” funding was “warmly welcomed” by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ):
“Ensuring the safety and security of all citizens is the first duty of any government”, Wertheim said. “Dave Sharma is to be congratulated for pursuing this matter so energetically with the Federal government. We thank him and the Federal government for recognising the importance and urgency of this issue for our community.”
Attacks on the Jews and LGBTIQ people by white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are nothing new, as we are reminded by the ECAJ:
The “racialists” are a more extreme version of the nationalists. They seek the violent overthrow of democracy and the imposition of an explicitly Nazi dictatorship by “Aryan” whites. The newest such group, Antipodean Resistance, whose Hitler-saluting members hide behind the anonymity of “death’s-head” masks in all their videos and photos, actively promotes and incites hatred and violence. Its anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual posters include graphic images depicting the shooting of Jews and homosexuals in the head. One poster called to “Legalise the execution of Jews”. Other posters urged homosexuals to commit suicide; one of these was widely distributed during the same sex marriage debate.
On October 15 2018 the Australian Senate voted 31-28 to narrowly defeat Senator Pauline Hanson’s “It’s OK to Be White” motion:
27 senators voted with Hanson, including ten government ministers.
Communications minister Mitch Fifield, trade minister Simon Birmingham, indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion, small business minister Michaelia Cash, deputy leader of the Nationals and minister for sport Bridget McKenzie, resources minister Matt Canavan, assistant minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds, assistant minister for treasury Zed Seselja, assistant minister for agriculture Richard Colbeck and the assistant minister for international development Anne Ruston all voted in favour.
Before the vote Ruston told the chamber: “The government condemns all forms of racism”.
Liberal senators Eric Abetz, Slade Brockman, David Bushby, Jonathon Duniam, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Lucy Gichuhi, Jane Hume, James McGrath, Jim Molan, Dean Smith, Amanda Stoker and National senators Barry O’Sullivan and John Williams also voted for the motion.
As did One Nation’s Peter Georgiou, Katter Australia Party’s Fraser Anning, Australian Conservatives’ Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.
Dave Sharma clearly has the tick of approval from the Jewish community’s leadership. Now he is aligned with a party from which at least a dozen MPs openly support a motion with its origins unambiguously founded in neo-Nazism.
It is not without irony that the $2.2million urgent security funding promised to the Jewish community, announced by a Liberal Party candidate, and welcomed by the NSW JBD and ECAJ, is likely going to be used to protect the Jewish community from white-supremacist neo-Nazi hate and bigotry fuelled by the very party the candidate belongs to.
Dave Sharma, the NSW JBD and the ECAJ need to urgently condemn the “It’s ok Be White” motion, the absence of which will amount to tacit support.