The Jewish LGBTIQ+ community in Australia has responded with “shock and revulsion” to news of a brutal attack against a 16-year-old youth at a LGBTIQ+ youth hostel in Tel Aviv on Friday.
According to reports, a teenager was seriously wounded just outside the hostel when he was stabbed in the chest and leg, apparently for religious reasons, by his own brother.
The incident comes within days of the 10th anniversary of the murder of a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl and the injuring of at least fifteen others, most of them minors, at the “Bar-Noar” LGBTIQ+ youth centre in Tel Aviv on 1 August 2009. It is also five years since 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.
Commenting on the latest incident, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “The attack on a resident at an LGBTIQ+ youth emergency centre is a chilling reminder of how much harder we need to work to break down the intolerance and ignorance that exists in many communities”.
“The 2009 attack in Tel Aviv was the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in the Jewish community in Australia, and as a result our community has come to value the importance of including and embracing its LGBTIQ+ people” Barnett said. “We are a better, stronger and more cohesive community as a result, although we also know there is much more work to do. Beliefs and attitudes that incite hate and violence are never acceptable, and we must call them out in all their forms. Our thoughts are with the injured boy and wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, described Friday’s stabbing as “extremely disturbing”.
“Israel has made great strides in recent years in encouraging respect for and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people, and it is light years ahead of neighbouring countries”’ Wertheim said. “But there is still a long way to go. In Israel, as elsewhere, LGBTIQ+ people still face all too frequent acts of violence motivated by hatred in a social climate that is inflamed by bigoted statements from people in positions of authority. We hope the young man who was attacked makes a full and speedy recovery and that his ordeal serves to spur political and religious leaders to greater efforts to stamp out anti-LGBTIQ+ violence, and the hatred that gives rise to it.”
We, the undersigned LGBTIQ+ advocates, organisations and allies, place on the public record our support for protections from discrimination for people of all faiths, and for people who don’t hold religious beliefs, provided these laws do not sanction new forms of discrimination against others.
As members of LGBTIQ+ communities, we have seen and experienced firsthand the immense harm discrimination causes. Discrimination has a devastating impact on physical and mental health, and an individual’s sense of acceptance and belonging.
We strongly believe that no one should be treated as ‘less than’ because of who you are or what you believe.
For more than forty years, we have advocated for the removal of discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. We have stood in solidarity with women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and many others in their fight for equal treatment under the law.
So too we stand with all people of faith in their fight against discrimination because of their religious beliefs, including discrimination against people because they don’t hold religious beliefs. We recognise and acknowledge the many LGBTIQ+ people of faith, and the positive steps taken by many faith groups and schools to model genuine inclusion, showing how the rights of all can be integrated harmoniously.
We call on the Australian Parliament to introduce laws that appropriately strengthen that shield of protection for people facing discrimination because of their religious beliefs or because they don’t hold religious beliefs.
Equally, we caution the Australian Parliament against laws that would give some people within society a ‘sword’ to use their beliefs to harm others by cutting through existing anti-discrimination protections.
We will oppose any new laws which would give religious groups a license to discriminate against others in a way that would sanction mistreatment or wind back the clock on equality.
And we will continue to call for the removal of existing laws which allow religious schools to exclude and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers across the country, and from critical government funded services.
Australia has long prided itself as being the land of the fair go. Australians have consistently demonstrated that they value equality before the law – as shown by the overwhelming majority who voted YES during the marriage equality postal survey, including people of faith.
Australia is well on the path towards becoming a more equal place, and we support fair and balanced protections from discrimination for all people which move us forward on this journey.
ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council
AIDS Action Council
AIS Support Group Australia
Amnesty International Australia
Australian Catholics for Equality
Australian Council of Social Services
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
Australian Marriage Equality
Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland
Bisexual Community Perth
Curtin University Centre for Human Rights Education
Democracy in Colour
Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW
GLBTI Rights in Ageing
Goulburn Valley Pride
Human Rights Law Centre
Intersex Human Rights Australia
LGBTI Legal Service
National LGBTI Health Alliance
Parents of Gender Diverse Children
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Queensland AIDS Council
Rainbow Families NSW
Rainbow Families Victoria
Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church of Western Australia
This week, we released a joint statement, signed by more than 50 organisations representing LGBTIQ+ people, people of faith, people of colour, women and our allies.
We understand that some religious organisations have targeted and discriminated against LGBTIQ+ people, and this continues today. They have done this largely with impunity and legal exemptions from some anti-discrimination laws. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will continue to advocate for fairer, stronger protections against discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people.
We do not know exactly what will be in the Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act. We have a fair sense of what might be included, and where religious lobby groups want the laws to go further. And we have been calling for the details of the bill to be released to prevent confusion and fear about what it might contain.
But we can state what we want – fair protections from harmful discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people and people of faith, as well as freedom from religion.
We stand firm with people of colour and people of faith in their need for fair and affirming protections from discrimination. There can be no doubt that people from religious minorities and people of colour are under attack in Australia – white supremacy is one of the most violent and prevalent threats faced by these communities, and we will stand with them in their fight against persecution.
We know that most Australians believe in fairness. At the same time, there is a vocal but dangerous minority which seeks to attack others under the guise of religion – including increasing targeting of trans and gender diverse communities.
Our opponents have no scruples in trying to divide LGBTIQ+ communities from people of colour and faith communities. When we buy into the their tactic that this is about Christians versus LGBTIQ+ people, we lose. We ignore the LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and pretend they don’t exist. We accept that the ACL and other minority views speak for ‘all’ Christian people, which we know to be false.
These debates are scary for all of us. We understand that. Especially for those of us who were raised in unsupportive faith communities, and understand how some people of faith view LGBTIQ+ people like us.
But buying into the ACL’s frame means we are fighting on their terms, the one they’re trying to win in the LNP party room.
We are stronger when we stand with our allies – with affirming people of faith who welcome LGBTIQ+ people into their congregations, with people of colour who marched alongside us for marriage equality, with women who are also being targeted for ‘religious exemptions’ around access to reproductive healthcare.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from affirming faith groups and multicultural organisations about their experiences of discrimination. We ask that you listen to the stories of LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and continue to take care of each other during these debates.
Aleph Melbourne is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Anton Hermann in a cycling accident on July 6 2019.
Anton was Vice President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV). In this capacity Anton was key in formulating the JCCV apology to Aleph Melbourne in April 2019 – an apology in response to the JCCV voting to reject Aleph’s membership to the JCCV 20 years earlier, in May 1999.
Anton was proactive in listening to the concerns of Aleph (including meeting with Aleph representatives Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller) and also reviewing the minutes of the JCCV meeting from May 1999 at which Aleph’s membership to the JCCV was rejected.
Anton came to understand the hateful and hurtful language of some delegates at the JCCV meeting of 20 years ago, and the long term negative impact this had on many LGBTIQ people in the Jewish community and also on their allies.
With conviction, compassion and consensus, Anton ensured that the JCCV apology was genuine, meaningful and unconditional.
This is just one of many actions of Anton’s that had a positive and uplifting social impact in relation to the Jewish community, the LGBTIQ community, and the broader community.
Anton’s untimely death is devastating to all who knew him and who were helped by him. We extend our sincere condolences to his family
Aleph will always remember his values and value his memory.
For further comment contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 or email@example.com.
Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people (and allies) who have a Jewish heritage, living in Melbourne, Australia.