AGMC Conference 2018: Melbourne’s Jewish Community: Going from “gays not welcome” to “we support marriage equality” in under 20 years

An exploration of the transformation of attitudes toward LGBTIQ people within Melbourne’s Jewish community from the 1990s to current day.

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Melbourne’s Jewish Community: Going from “gays not welcome” to “we support marriage equality” in under 20 years
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Sat Sep 22, 2018
Training Room
Community groups in action

Description
An exploration of the transformation of attitudes toward LGBTIQ people within Melbourne’s Jewish community from the 1990s to current day. This session includes the screening of a 10 minute documentary “Aleph Melbourne – Celebrating 20 Years – 1995-2015”. It also includes an exploration of how the 2009 shooting at the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Centre was the catalyst for a series of events that shattered the decade-long silence since the Victorian Jewish community leadership rejected the membership application of a gay men’s group to them endorsing marriage equality 8 years later.

Learning objectives/outcomes:A greater understanding and appreciation of the issues, sensitivities and nuances around LGBTIQ inclusion in Melbourne’s Jewish community.

30 minute Oral Presentation and Video

Speaker
Michael Barnett
Convenor, Aleph Melbourne

20180922 AGMC - Michael Barnett - Aleph Melbourne session

Aleph Melbourne withdraws from tainted 2017 Midsumma Pride March

Regretfully Aleph Melbourne will not be participating in the 2017 Pride March due to Midsumma keeping News Corp Australia as a sponsor.  This breaks an annual tradition going back to 1997.

While News Corp journalists like Andrew Bolt, Mirada Devine and Rita Panahi are on a crusade to destroy transgender kids, the Safe Schools program and marriage equality, it is completely unacceptable for any LGBTIQ community organisation to accept money or in-kind support from them.

Thirteen-year old Tyrone Unsworth might not have had cause to take his own life if News Corp had not fuelled the fires of bigotry and intolerance.  If Midsumma want to partner with News Corp then it must accept responsibility for Tyrone’s tragic death.

“This is the second year that News Corp have been a supporter of Midsumma (Herald Sun logo was used last year).”
— Midsumma (25/11/2016)

Sadly this is the second year that Midsumma have had News Corp as a sponsor.  Aleph Melbourne would not have participated in 2016 if this had become apparent at the time.

Aleph Melbourne calls on Midsumma to hold News Corp to account for their words and actions, along with returning any cash sponsorship or in-kind support.

JOY 94.9FM – 6PM News – Nov 25 2016


Responses

Community Upset At Midsumma’s News Corp Sponsorship (SameSame; 25/11/2016)
Gay activist must apologise for this lie (Herald-Sun; 26/11/2016)
OPINION: Enough, Everyone, Andrew Bolt Is No Transphobe (SameSame; 27/11/2016)

MR: Aleph Melbourne expresses alarm at Melbourne visit by Moshe Feiglin

MEDIA RELEASE
October 9 2015

ALEPH MELBOURNE EXPRESSES ALARM AT MELBOURNE VISIT BY MOSHE FEIGLIN

 

The imminent visit by Moshe Feiglin to Melbourne has raised alarm by many organisations within the Melbourne Jewish community.  Aleph Melbourne is signatory to a collective statement from these organisations.

Despite claiming to support “human rights” for LGBTIQ people, Moshe Feiglin opposes full societal inclusion and equality of LGBTIQ people, as reported in the Jerusalem Post in 2013:

Feiglin said. “When you’re trying to change the value system, that pushes me into the closet!” Families, he stated, are the foundation stone of society and the nation, and he said he would not do anything to harm what he called the “classic” family structure of one man, one woman and their children.

Aleph convenor Michael Barnett said: “Any Holocaust denier or anti-Semite would be hounded out of town by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Anti-Defamation Commission, yet despite these organisations calling for respect for LGBTIQ people, they have remained silent on this visit from a person who does not respect LGBTIQ people.  That is unacceptable.  This man represents intolerance and intolerance is unacceptable to a cohesive and safe community.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Anti-Defamation Commission to express their extreme disappointment at the Jewish organisations that are hosting Moshe Feiglin during his visit to Melbourne, in addition to their outrage at his visit.

ENDS

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

JCCV, ECAJ & NSW JBD respond to homophobic comment on J-Wire Mardi Gras story

J-Wire posted a story “Mardi Gras rocks” about Sydney’s GLBTIQ group Dayenu‘s participation in the Mardi Gras Parade.  The following comment by Gil Solomon was approved by the J-Wire editor:

I don’t see a “Sydney Catholic GLBT Group” float (or any other denomination for that matter) so why do Jews have to overtly see the need to show to the world that they are both gay and Jewish?

The Jewish world has enough problems to contend with and I, being politically incorrect, categorically state I couldn’t care less what you people do behind closed doors but why do you see the need to hit us in the face that you’re a bunch of Jews. Go join some other float, as it nauseates me to think that you lot seem to think the Jewish community as a whole supports your blatant display of your sexual orientation.

I repeat, I couldn’t care less what you people do, but I am offended by the fact that you give your sexual preference a Jewish dimension.

Aleph Melbourne called for the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and prominent anti-homophobia advocate, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, to respond to this homophobic message:

Jo Silver from the JCCV posted this comment in response:

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is proud to host a GLBTI Reference Group and support the No to Homophobia Campaign.

It’s wonderful to see that people feel ‘safe’ enough to openly participate in the Mardi Gras and express their unique Jewish identity as well. Well done!

The Reference Group is focused on raising awareness in our community that hurtful comments and nasty jibes can cause depression, anxiety and other well being issues for our GLBTI members. We are all people with feelings and emotions and we all have the right to open our door every day and face the world without feeling harassed.

A futher tweet from Aleph Melbourne reiterated the request for the ECAJ and NSW JBD to speak out:

ECAJ advised on Twitter that their response had been posted as a comment on J-Wire by their Public Affairs Director Alex Ryvchin:

The comment appeared on J-Wire accordingly:

Dear Gil

If members of the Jewish community wish to participate in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, that is their right. If they wish to do so while openly identifying as Jews, that too is their right. Your comment that “[their] blatant displays of sexual orientation” should “remain behind closed doors” is an attack on their human dignity. It was not so long ago that Jews were being told that their ‘blatant displays’ of religious and national identity should ‘remain behind closed doors’. As neither you nor those you criticise act in any representative capacity, you and they are free to express yourselves as you wish. Australia as a nation has committed itself to mutual respect for the human dignity of all members of the community, despite any strongly held differences; recognition that disagreement is possible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views; and avoidance of any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These are values that benefit all of us.”

– Alex Ryvchin

Finally, another call for the NSW JBD to respond:

Their reply, leaving ample room for improvement, came only by Twitter:

It’s good to see these three organisations speaking out, to varying degrees, against homophobia and intolerance of homosexuality.  They must continue to set a strong and positive example, to the entire Jewish community and to other faith communities, that all discrimination and intolerance is unacceptable.

Finally, take a few minutes to read the comment stream on the J-Wire story.  The author of the contentious post unconvincingly attempted to clarify/justify his initial message in follow-up comments.  Make of it what you will.

Aleph appreciative of JCCV stand | J-Wire

Aleph appreciative of JCCV stand

February 16, 2014 by J-Wire Staff

Aleph Melbourne has welcomed the recent statement from David Marlow, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, where he unreservedly stands up to intolerance of homosexuality.

Aleph responds to: “Homophobia, lack of acceptance and intolerance of homosexuality causes serious stress, anxiety and serious mental health issues and are not acceptable. All people should be welcomed and respected as valuable members of society and the community.”

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said “Whilst the JCCV has been increasingly passionate over the last 12 months in standing up to homophobia, and in stating that being gay is ok, this is the first time the JCCV has actually made a claim that any intolerance of homosexuality is unacceptable.”

Barnett added “Hearing these words from a representative of the JCCV shows they understand that members of the Jewish community have been hurt by intolerance of their sexual orientation, due to factors like inflexible religious attitudes and a lack of education.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on the JCCV to raise the issue of intolerance of homosexuality with its member organisations, especially those who continue to promote intolerance of homosexuality, and help build a safe, inclusive and affirming environment, that not only accepts but visibly celebrates all people as valued and equal members of the community, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Why Jews should join the fight for gay rights in Russia | Haaretz

Why Jews should join the fight for gay rights in Russia | Haaretz.

Jewish Teacher Strikes New Legal Blow in Gay Marriage Fight | Forward.com

Jewish Teacher Strikes New Legal Blow in Gay Marriage Fight | Forward.com.

Petition | Mount Scopus Memorial College: Become a member of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria. | Change.org

Petition | Mount Scopus Memorial College: Become a member of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria. | Change.org.


Comments posted on the petition, current as at 13:30 Jul 15 2013:

  • Bryce Kenny MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    As a gay student I felt as though my school was not a place I could be comfortable at, the issues surrounding sexual identity were ignored unless from an academic, religious perspective which was far from inviting.. I love the school and the community and that’s why I want it to be as positive of an influence on the life of each student and the community as it possibly can be

  • Lillian Poe WEED, CA

    It is done by men who do not respect women and change needs to happen.

  • Ena Burstin MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Because when I was a young lesbian, Mt Scopus was so unsafe for me…I don’t want any young people to experience the fear and loathing I did. Please make this school safe, respectful and welcoming.

  • Tayla Rabie AUSTRALIA

    Many gay friends and family members, they deserve to be happy too.

  • Mike Samuel AUSTRALIA

    A safe environment is imperative for the wellbeing and mental health of GLBTIQ youth. Mount Scopus should join SSCV and lead the community in ensuring the safety of their charges.

  • Josh Steiner AUSTRALIA

    Because everyone should feel secure

  • Vivien Ray NORTHCOTE, AUSTRALIA

    As a counsellor, I see young people who tell me it is not safe to ‘come out’ at school. Help make them feel safe and accepted at school.

  • Gina Saben AUSTRALIA

    I would hate to not feel safe to be myself within our school walls.

  • Zoë Kay AUSTRALIA

    If I have rights to walk through school being who I am, people who like the same sex shouldn’t find life any different.

  • Brandon Zielinski MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone should be allowed to love who they fall in love with. It doesn’t matter if it is a guy and a girl, a boy and a boy or a girl and a girl. Love is love, and that’s all that matters.

  • yonit chait DONCASTER, AUSTRALIA

    Because everyone has and deserves rights no matter who they love and what they believe.

  • Everyone deserves to love.

  • jade bresler AUSTRALIA

    BECAUSE HOMOPHOBIA FUCKIN SUCKS

  • Guy Hipsher AUSTRALIA

    I want my school to be a Safe school

  • Dahlia Goldberg AUSTRALIA

    because everyone on this earth has the right to love.

  • Roy Freeman SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

    SSCV is a great initiative; it educates children about subjects that would otherwise remain taboo in some communities and it makes schools safer for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse kids. The earlier kids are taught about this stuff, the more likely they are to grow up open-minded.

  • Montana Sharp AUSTRALIA

    Here’s the thing..

    I used to be indifferent. I used to not care about homosexuality and the phrases ”that’s so gay” and ”faggot” used to fly right out of my mouth. I was uneducated. Sure my aunty whom I hadn’t seen in years was gay, as was my second cousin, but I never really felt an emotional stigma to fight for rights to a concept I had no idea about.

    In 2011, I became very close friends with a very quirky and intelligent guy whom I suspected was gay, not that at the time I really cared, as I said before I was incredibly indifferent. However, once you start to love and trust someone, and recognise that your carelessness is probably keeping them from trusting you, you know changes have to be made. I think education is important not just for those who are rabid homophobics, but for those who have no stance, like I once had. What most of these indifferent individuals need to recognise is that those seemingly harmless everyday words and phrases that we just throw around for the sake of fitting into the mainstream vernacular could be hurting anyone. You could be hurting your sister, your brother, your teacher, your peers, or even your best friend. The removal of the subtle undercurrent of homophobia that is ever-present in Mount Scopus is absolutely essential to the mental and physical wellbeing of the students of the present, and of the future. Let’s fix ignorance.

  • Ben Janover AUSTRALIA

    Scopus should show its adhernence of the ethos of having a safe and welcoming learning environment for ALL – including students and staff. Being a current student at school here, I believe that the lid must be opened on this issue.

  • Marco Fink MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    To promote equality and support for all students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

  • David Donaldson AUSTRALIA

    Because school is hard enough without having to worry about being queer or trans.

  • Mark Baker MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    I think the issue goes beyond creating a safe environment; it’s about communicating a message to all students that gays are an equal part of the Jewish covenant, and therefore carry the same responsibility to build authentic Jewish lives and homes. This affirmative message is as important for Scopus, as for a synagogue community.

  • Ralph Burd CAULFIELD NORTH, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone deserves to feel safe and be able to have a voice

  • Jennifer Lee AUSTRALIA

    Every child and adult has the right to feel safe and welcomed within their community and its institutions – creating and maintaining the dialogue is key.

  • Jonathan Danilowitz TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

    To savethe lives of distressed youth under extreme pressure. To reunite families split apart

  • Linda Joseph RESTON, VA

    I am a former student of Mt Scopus. My work as a rabbi brings me into contact with many folk from the GLBTQ community. Many of whom have gifted wonderful talents to Jewish life and continuity. If all of us are created B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, shouldn’t GLBTQ students, teachers and members of the College community, not be cherished and accepted, just the way they have been created?

  • Sylvia Schey LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

    I believe it is the right for everyone to choose the way they wish to live as long as it doesn’t impact on others. The prime minister of England has brought into law the ability for have a same sex marriage. It is after all, the 21st century

  • Roxanne Joseph JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    Part of Habonim Dror Southern Africa, stand for LBGT rights!

  • Daniel Etzion AUSTRALIA

    Im an ex student of the school, and have many friends who are homosexual.

  • It is so important that schools are a safe space for everyone.

  • Rebecca Burns AUSTRALIA

    Every single person deseves to be treated the same

  • Ariela Jacobs AUSTRALIA

    You could save a lot of lives. No one should have to feel uncomfortable within their community, nor should they feel that way with their day to day school environment just because of who they are.

  • Eric Rollett AUSTRALIA

    I feel it is important for our society to be more inclusive of something that is not an option or choice for a young person.

  • Selma Browde JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    Should be important to any intelligent thinking person.

  • Jaryd Kay CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

    Everybody has the right to dignity.

  • Daniel Browde JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    I believe in standing up to bullies and violence and however we can do that, we should. With kindness and solidarity, we really can make the world a better place.

  • Paul Browde NEW YORK, NY

    as a boy i lived with the tyranny of homophobia, as an adult and a psychiatrist i see the terrible effects of homophobia on adolescents with higher suicide rates among gay youth.

  • Romy Browne MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone, children and adults, deserve to be in an environment where their sexual orientation is respected, they feel safe and where tolerance and acceptance towards and others is not only taught, but enforced. This is a fantastic initiative, you have my full support.

  • Merv Barnett AUSTRALIA
    Each and every person, without exception, deserves equal rights and freedom to exist in harmony and complete safety amongst their peers. Schools and other youth organisations must adopt a zero tolerence for homophobia. Protection of our children is paramount whilst they grow and try to find their way in life. I speak from the experience of being a totally supportive parent of a gay son.
  • We want all members of our community, particularly our children, to be given the confidence to be who they are not, not who we want them to be.

  • Harold Zwier ELSTERNWICK, AUSTRALIA

    Putting your name publicly to this petition might encourage others to also sign it and effect change.

  • Family member that was bullied at school due to sexuality.

  • Tessa Manoim JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

    because it is important and can save lives

  • Nathan Cherny MACCABIM, ISRAEL

    I am a concerned former student and uncle of the school captain

  • Osher G CAULFIELD NORTH, AUSTRALIA

    As one of the largest educational organisations of Jewish children in Australia, its integral that our children are brought up and educated in an environment which fosters positive attitudes, tolerance, acceptance and understanding of differences in colour, Race, Creed, religion and of course Sexual preferance

  • Naomi Goldwater AUSTRALIA

    Becoming a member of SSCV would show Scopus’ commitment to supporting its GBLTQR students and staff

  • Justine Kuran AUSTRALIA

    I don’t tolerate any minority groups being discrimated against on any basis!

  • Mark Cherny GAOTING TOWN, CHINA

    There should be no place for homophobia or discrimination based on sexual preferences or orientation within our community.

  • Tal Spinrad CLARINDA, AUSTRALIA

    I’m Jewish. Everyone deserves Kavod…everyone deserves to be treated as they were and are created in the image of G-d.

  • Michael Winn MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    I swam at Mt Scopus for 8 years, I know they’re a great school and can do a lot of good

  • Daniel Roitman AUSTRALIA

    As an alumni of this school, as well as the sibling of a gay alumni of this school, I feel it is crucial Mount Scopus gets with the time and provides every single student and teacher a safe environment in which they can thrive. This should be independent of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity or anything else.

  • Benjamin Russell WOODFORD, AUSTRALIA

    As a gay student, I found life extremely difficult going to a school where homophobia was abundant. I would like all schools to be safer and more tolerant, which this petition will hopefully provide for your school.

  • Kerry Wolfe AUSTRALIA

    All children are entitled to a SAFE environment regardless of Race, Color, Creed or Sexuality !

  • Samantha Elsworthy MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Growing up is a tough time. We, as adults, remember how hard it was. We need to create as many safe spaces as we can, and actively promote acceptance and love. Please take this small step, join the SSCV, because though it may not directly affect the adults at MSMC, it will mean THE WORLD to the students who you help. It will make their time at your school so much more enjoyable. Thank you.

  • Gregory Storer CARNEGIE, AUSTRALIA

    I have family attending the school, it would be good to know that they are in safe hands. These initiatives are important for the on-going safety and security of all students

  • Tahlia Hyams AUSTRALIA

    Mount Scopus should show its commitment to providing a safe and respectful campus environment for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer students and teachers, and to take all necessary steps to ensure that its campus is a safe space for all, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

  • Michael Barnett ASHWOOD, VIC, AUSTRALIA

    In particular, my niece and nephew are students at Mt Scopus and I want them to have the safest environment possible. No student should fear going to school because of bullying because they are different. The school must set the highest standard possible and protect all their students, immediately.

  • Megan Efron AUSTRALIA

    I came out when I was at Scopus, I think this is a good initiative.